New gTLD Program Committee directs ICANN’s President to address the “closed generic” TLDs issue

The New gTLD Program Committee has received correspondence from the community addressing “closed generic” TLDs and understands that members of the community term a “closed generic” TLD as a TLD string that is a generic term and is proposed to be operated by a participant exclusively for its own benefit.

ICANN implemented the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) policy recommendations on the “Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains”, and within those policy recommendations there is no specific policy regarding “closed generic” top-level domains (TLDs). Members of the community have expressed concerns regarding applications for “closed generic” TLDs.

The New gTLD Program Committee considers that it is important to understand all views and potential ramifications relating to ‘closed generic’ TLDs. So the New gTLD Program Committee directed ICANN’s President and CEO to address the “closed generic” TLDs issue by:

  • Opening a 30-day public comment forum on this topic, which should include a call for identification of proposed objective criteria to classify applied-for TLDs as “closed generic” TLDs.
  • concurrently with the opening of the public comment forum, request the GNSO to provide guidance on the issue of “closed generic” TLDs if the GNSO wishes to provide such guidance. Guidance on this issue is requested to be provided by the close of the public comment forum.
  • directs the President and CEO to:
  1. Summarize and analyze all comments submitted in the public comment forum.
  2. Review materials supporting the policy development process resulting in the GNSO policy recommendations on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains and provide analysis of any discussions relating to the limitations on potential new gTLDs.
  3. Analyze the feasibility of objectively classifying applied for TLDs as “closed generic” TLDs.
  4. Provide an analysis as to whether the public interest and principles of international law are served by adopting a clear approach regarding ‘closed generic’ gTLDs.
  5. Provide a report to the New gTLD Program Committee informed by the comments received and analysis conducted, including alternatives to addressing this issue.

The rationale for these resolutions was:

Why is the New gTLD Program Committee is addressing the issue now?
ICANN has received numerous requests for clarification in this area, including recent correspondence expressing concerns about “closed generic” applications.

What are the proposals being considered?
Various proposals have been raised to the Committee’s attention in correspondence, including rejection of certain applications, adoption of new requirements regarding TLD registration policies, and suggested criteria for applying or exempting registries from the Code of Conduct in the Registry Agreement. The Committee believes that a full analysis and discussion are necessary to inform any actions to be taken on this issue.

What Stakeholders or others were consulted?
The resolution initiates a public comment period to enable stakeholder consultation and consideration of relevant information and analysis, including a request for guidance from the GNSO.

What concerns or issues were raised by the community?
Recent correspondence has expressed concerns about the potential impact on competition and consumer choice, as well as phrasing the issue in terms of potential impact on the public interest.

What significant materials did the New gTLD Program Committee review?
The Committee reviewed all recent correspondence on this issue, as well as current provisions in the Applicant Guidebook, including the gTLD Registry Agreement.

What factors did the New gTLD Program Committee find to be significant?
The Committee considered it important to understand all views and potential ramifications relating to “closed generic” TLDs. Some in the community have urged the Board/New gTLD Program Committee to issue direction in regard to these applications to address their stated concerns.

Taking action (such as the potential incorporation of a requirement to reject certain applications, or adoption of new requirements regarding TLD registration policies) that changes the fundamental provisions and criteria in the Applicant Guidebook must be balanced very carefully.

Are there Positive or Negative Community Impacts?
The resolution initiates a public comment period, and is intended to allow the Committee to examine and consider possible positive and negative community effects of the issue, and the extent of such effects. The resolution also invites guidance from the GNSO, as well as comprehensive research and analysis to better understand any broader effects of future action on this issue.

Are there fiscal impacts/ramifications on ICANN (Strategic Plan, Operating Plan, Budget); the community; and/or the public as a result of taking this action?
The analysis called for in the resolution will be conducted as part of budgeted work functions. No significant fiscal impacts are foreseen. The inputs are being requested on a short time frame to allow for minimal impact on operational planning/timelines.

Are there any Security, Stability or Resiliency issues relating to the DNS as a result of taking this action?
The Committee is not currently aware of any security, stability, or resiliency issues relating to the DNS as a result of this action.


About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and I am now living in Athens, Greece. I went online in 1995, started coding in 1996 and began buying domain names and creating websites in 2000. I started the blog in 2012.

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