The New Top-Level Domain Applicant Group (or NTAG) is an interest group formed under Article III.D. of the Charter of the gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG). The primary role of the NTAG is to represent the interests of entities that applied for a new gTLD(s) in ICANN's 2012 gTLD round. The NTAG represents the views of its members to the RySG, the GNSO Council, the ICANN Board of Directors, and other influential bodies.
All applicants who have applied in the 2012 gTLD round are eligible for membership. Upon delegation of their string(s) to the ICANN root, they will be eligible for full membership in the RySG.
NTAG & ICANN
In September 2012, NTAG addressed a letter to ICANN staff, summarizing the consensus of NTAG members on a need for increased support and communication with new gTLD applicants. NTAG summarized the following points and critiques in processing the new gTLDs:
- ICANN should continue to conduct regularly scheduled webinars. After critiquing ICANN's first webinar on August 9, 2012, NTAG believes that the webinars should have lengthened durations, to allow more time for Q&A sessions. NTAG also believes the webinars should be more interactive and scheduled on a biweekly basis, with at least three weeks notice prior to each event.
- ICANN should take applicant comments into account prior to any decision-making process.
- ICANN should publish and regularly update a process dashboard or scorecard that includes metrics related to the status of background checks, initial evaluation reviews, string similarity reviews, withdrawn applicants, and budget information.
- ICANN should conduct an applicant survey to gather additional information for refining processes, with details and questions that NTAG has formed a team to aid with.
- ICANN should designate one or more new gTLD Applicant Liaison(s) to interact with and offer support to the community's 1,930 applicants.
- ICANN should publish all guidelines the ICANN Staff and Board have developed regarding appropriate interactions with applicants, so that applicants can understand and adhere to requirements.
- ICANN's New gTLD Program Director should regularly attend NTAG's bi-weekly teleconferences to provide updates on the program.
In a letter to the ICANN CEO, Board, and gTLD Program Committee Chair, NTAG also expressed that they found an extended objection period beyond ICANN's established January 13th, 2013 date to be unnecessary.
In January 2013, The NTAG was one of about 85 entities to respond to ICANN's Strawman Proposal, which is a strategy for implementing rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) for brands and trademark holders beyond what was originally included in the applicant guidebook on new TLDs. The NTAG, and others, see the closed-door meetings that produced the more stringent and broader RPMs to be against the ICANN development process that created the New gTLD Program and the governing applicant guidebook. They note that any positive decision related to the Strawman would be unwelcome 'implementation' rather than 'development'. It encourages ICANN to present its proposed changes to the GNSO to allow for community development.
New TLD Registry Agreement
In February 2013, it was revealed that ICANN was pushing for a "unilateral right to amend" in both its New TLD Registry Agreement and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement. The point would give the ICANN Board to amend the Agreement with a 2/3 majority vote, under the current registry agreement special amendments need the approval of registries representing two-thirds of all registry fees paid to ICANN before they became law. The NTAG issued a letter saying that the move was, "nothing more than a power grab by ICANN staff." ICANN and its defenders claim that the change is necessary given the large amount of new registries to be created and prepare for any future Registry Agreements, where getting hundreds of operators to agree will be near impossible as evidenced by the 18 months spent working on the most recent Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA).
- Tim Switzer, DotGreen Community Inc., Chair
- Sarah Falvey, Charleston Road Registry, Vice Chair
- Liz Sweezy, FairWinds Partners, LLC, Treasurer
- Josh Zetlin, Dot Construction, LLC, Secretary
In September 2012, NTAG formed three new teams, responsible for monitoring developments within their area, updating memberships, and offering comment to the ICANN community as they deemed necessary. This resulted in eight total teams, broken down as follows:
- Team 1: Overall New gTLD Timeline Including GAC Issues & ANA - Moving forward and completing timeline processes
- Team 2: Batching/Sequencing/Metering - Formulating ideas and suggestions for batching, sequencing, and/or metering methods
- Team 3: 1000/year Rated Delegation Limit - Expanding the perceived 1000/year addition to root
- Team 4: Operational Improvements - Increasing operational effectiveness
- Team 5: Monthly Newsletter - Developing memberships and updates
- Team 6: ICANN Survey - Constructing questions and offering advice on applicant surveys
- Team 7: Objection Period Response
- Team 8: 1 and 2 Character Names
- About NTAG, gTLDRegistries.org.
- Communications and Support NTAG to ICANN, Scribd.com. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- Strawman Splits Community, DomainIncite.comPublished & Retrieved 16 Jan 2013]
- Strawman Proposed to Settle Trademark Deadlock at Secretive ICANN meeting, DomainIncite.comPublished Novemeber 19 2012, Retrieved 17 Jan 2013
- TMCH Strawman, Forum.ICANN.orgRetrieved 17 Jan 2013
- ICANN Seeks More Power Over New gTLD Registries, DomainIncite.com 1 April 2013