Pakistan and EU Parliament – More Updates from ICANN Brussels

Josh Bourne ⬥ 24 June

ICANN Brussels

George Kirikos wasn’t the only one who raised really interesting and challenging points at the ICANN meeting.  There are two more people who made comments and asked questions that I think are important and that I’d like to talk about here.

The first is Zahid Jamil, who hails form Karachi, Pakistan.  The port city in the past has reclaimed land from the sea, and the idea of a mass reclamation project was proposed not long ago.  While the initiative had many potential benefits (increasing the amount of land would lower housing prices for citizens and generate revenue for the government), it was widely agreed that the economic impact of such a project needed to be assessed.  Eventually, the geological and environmental analysts determined that there was not enough information and hard data to thoroughly measure the environmental impact of the project.

Zahid compared this process to ICANN’s new gTLD rollout, pointing out how ICANN is pressing forward “without enough hard statistics, feasibility studies, and analysis, etc.”  He went on to say, “Here I would caution against a wholesale launch of new gTLDs in the context, similarly, of the root scaling study and economic studies, and the cautions that have come out in the recommendations, such as recommendations for surveys, etc., and the fragility and the risks to the Internet we heard all about at Nairobi.”

Another great contribution came from Bertrand de la Chapelle, the Representative from France to ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC).  Betrand made a spot-on analogy that compared the Draft Applicant Guidebook (DAG) to the process of drafting a parliamentary law.  When drafting a new law, a huge amount of preparatory work is involved that results in, as Bertrand quaintly put it, a pile of documents “as high as the Eiffel Tower.”  The resulting law, however, must be understandable and concise.  In this case, the DAG is equal to the preparatory work – long, dense and unrefined.  Bertrand went on to suggest that the DAG, along with all the comments and work that have gone into it, should be reworked into a much shorter and more user-friendly document of around 20 pages or so.

Both Zahid and Bertrand’s comments get at a common sentiment that I’ve been hearing, both at the meeting and in other conversations: that ICANN is nowhere near ready to launch new gTLDs.  In fact, it has only really begun to do its homework on the matter.  For example, aside from releasing multiple versions of the DAG, ICANN only just released an analysis of the economic impact of new gTLDs last week.  That kind of study should have been conducted years ago, when new gTLDs were first being discussed.

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly), ICANN doesn’t seem to want to hear from anyone warning them to slow down.  In response to Zahid’s comments, Kurt Pritz, the moderator of the New gTLD Update session, basically said that ICANN was moving forward with new gTLDs because that has been the direction of ICANN’s policy – without any greater justification. 

Tags: Betrand de la Chapelle, DAG, Draft Applicant Guidebook, economic impact, Eiffel Tower, feasibility statistics, France, GAC, George Kirikos, Government Advisory Committee, gTLDs, ICANN, Internet, Kurt Pritz, Pakistan, parliamentary law, Zahid Jamil

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