Who’s Responsible Here?

FairWinds Partners —  October 14, 2011

By now, regardless of how we may feel about new gTLDs, we all know who was the driving force behind the New gTLD Program – ICANN, the California-based non-profit that is in charge of coordinating the Internet’s domain name system.

Well, actually that’s not quite true. It turns out that everyone knows ICANN was the driving force behind new gTLDs except…ICANN.

According to BrandChannel, ICANN President Rod Beckstrom stated during a conference last month that ICANN is not “advocating new gTLDs anymore.” Instead, ICANN’s role is to facilitate and implement the policy. This statement was made right around the time that ICANN kicked off its “communications period,” where representatives will travel around the world “educating” people about new gTLDs.

Not advocating new gTLDs, just educating people about them. And how great they will be in terms of increasing competition and fostering innovation on the Internet.

This kind of double-speak is, unfortunately, quite common within ICANN. A common fall-back for the ICANN leadership is to pass responsibility off onto “the community” – the leadership doesn’t set policies, the community does.

This is what they mean by “community”:

The reason we wanted to point this out to gTLD Strategy readers, and brand owners in general, is because once they successfully apply for a gTLD and start operating a registry, they are going to become members of that community, specifically, as part of the Registries Stakeholder Constituency in the GNSO. The GNSO is the primary group within ICANN that drives policy-making processes. All new gTLD operators will be required to maintain a functional relationship with ICANN, and they can chooseto rely on a gTLD service provider or consultant to handle these technical responsibilities. But beyond that, brands that become new gTLD operators can also choose to become active members of the ICANN community and work toward developing policies that benefit all brand owners.

Hey, it’s what the community wants.


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