ICANN will not delegate the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL in the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program. The ICANN Board has directed the President and CEO to, upon withdrawal of the remaining 20 applications for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL, provide the applicants a full refund of the New gTLD Program application fee of $185,000.
The ICANN Board considered that the applicants were not aware before the application window that the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL would be identified as high-risk, and that the delegations of such high-risk strings would be deferred indefinitely.
The Board engaged in a discussion of the relative merits and disadvantages of the various options presented to address the applications. The Board’s discussion focused on issues of fairness, whether the applicants expressed a preference for any of the options, and how to address applications for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL that had been withdrawn.
There were 11 applicants for .home, 6 for .corp and 7 for .mail.
The 24 applicants included Google, Afilias, GMO registry, Amazon, Uniregistry, GoDaddy and others.
The total amount that should have been refunded is $4,440,000. But because 4 applications were withdrawn in the past 5 years the amount to be refunded now $3,700,000. These 4 applicants received the standard refund of $65,000 instead of the full refund of $185,000. ICANN should pay this difference too.
Of course the companies had a lot more invested in these applications while ICANN had a free loan for 5+ years.
ICANN should have done proper research before allowing these applicants to apply for these strings. Of course ICANN takes the money first and thinks afterwards.
Also, the Board discussed budget implications of the options presented. I really don’t understand what was discussed. They took money they should never have received. They should give the money back.
Refunds to the applicants have already started.
Here are some more details from ICANN:
Why is the Board addressing the issue now?
Previously, the Board has considered the applications for .CORP, .HOME and .MAIL and determined to defer delegation of these names indefinitely because of name collisions. A name collision occurs when an attempt to resolve a name used in a private name space (e.g., under a non-delegated TLD, or a short, unqualified name) results in a query to the public Domain Name System (DNS). When the administrative boundaries of private and public namespaces overlap, name resolution may yield unintended or harmful results. The introduction of any new domain name into the DNS at any level creates the potential for name collision. However, the New gTLD Program has brought renewed attention to this issue of queries for undelegated TLDs at the root level of the DNS because certain applied-for new TLD strings could be identical to name labels used in private networks (i.e., .HOME, .CORP, and .MAIL). A secure, stable, and resilient Internet is ICANN’s number one priority. To support this, the ICANN Board has made a commitment to the Internet community to mitigate and manage name collision occurrence. As part of this commitment, ICANN organization published in July 2014 the Name Collision Occurrence Management Framework. Guided by recommendations in reports from the SSAC and JAS Global Advisors, the Framework recommended that the delegation of the strings .HOME, .CORP, and .MAIL be deferred indefinitely. These strings were identified as “high-risk.”
These findings and recommendations prompting the Board’s previous action on .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL have not changed and are expected to continue to be applicable in the near term. In the Board resolution of 2 November 2017, the Board directed the ICANN org to provide options to the Board for addressing the applications for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL. ICANN org presented options to the Board at the Board meeting of 13 December 2017. The Board discussed the merits and disadvantages of the options presented and is taking action at this time to address the applications.
What are the options being considered? What factors did the Board find significant?
Contemplating that the Board does not intend to delegate the .CORP, HOME and .MAIL strings before the end of the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program, the options presented to the Board took into account two key questions: What type of refund should be provided to the applicants? Should the applicants receive priority over other applications for these strings in any subsequent round of the New gTLD Program? The Board considered a range of options and arrangements resulting from these questions: from a standard refund and no priority, to a full refund and priority.
In discussing the options regarding the refund amount, the Board considered that a standard refund would most closely adhere to the terms that all applicants agreed to in the Applicant Guidebook (AGB). Applicants acknowledged the Terms and Conditions in the AGB establishing that “ICANN has the right to determine not to proceed with any and all applications for new gTLDs, and that there is no assurance that any additional gTLDs will be created. The decision to review, consider and approve an application to establish one or more gTLDs and to delegate new gTLDs after such approval is entirely at ICANN’s discretion.”
However, the Board also considered issues of fairness and acknowledged that—although the issue of name collision was described in AGB Section 220.127.116.11—applicants were not aware before the application window that the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL would be identified as high-risk. Additionally, in light of the recommendations made in the JAS Report, SAC062, SAC066, and the Name Collision Management Framework adopted by the NGPC on 30 July 2014, delegation of these strings was deferred indefinitely.
The Board found that this situation was unique within the New gTLD Program. Other applications within the New gTLD Program were not delegated or allowed to proceed based on established New gTLD Program processes. For example, the AGB contemplated that not all applications would pass evaluation (Initial or Extended Evaluation), and all applicants were thus aware of the possibility that there was a potential for not passing the string reviews and not being eligible for delegation. The applicants for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL were not aware of the forthcoming years of study on the issue of name collision and that they ultimately would be ineligible to proceed in the New gTLD Program.
As such, the Board has determined it would be appropriate in this case to account for the unforeseen impact to application processing and to provide the remaining applications for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL a full refund of the New gTLD Program application fee of $185,000, upon withdrawal of the application by the applicant.
Regarding priority in a subsequent round, the Board considered several different factors. The Board considered that there is currently no indication that the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL will be able to be delegated at any time in the future. While the Board has taken a resolution requesting the ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee to conduct a study and provide advice to the Board regarding the risks and possible mitigation of the risks associated with delegating the .CORP, .HOME, .MAIL strings in the root, the outcome of this study will not be available in the near term. The Board also considered the potential complexity associated with establishing procedures and rules for granting priority and that this may be an issue to be handled via the policy development process and not Board action. Based on these reasons, the Board has determined not to grant priority in a subsequent round to the applicants for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL who might reapply.
What significant materials did the Board review?
In adopting this resolution, the Board has reviewed, in addition to the options provided by ICANN org, various materials, including, but not limited to:
- SAC045: Invalid Top Level Domain Queries at the Root Level of the Domain Name System (https://www.icann.org/en/committees/security/sac045.pdf [PDF, 507 KB])
- SAC057: SSAC Advisory on Internal Name Certificates (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/sac-057-en.pdf [PDF, 1.14 MB])
- SAC062: SSAC Advisory Concerning the Mitigation of Name Collision Risk (https://www.icann.org/en/groups/ssac/documents/sac-062-en.pdf [PDF, 375 KB])
- SAC064: SSAC Advisory on Search List Process (https://www.icann.org/en/groups/ssac/documents/sac-064-en.pdf [PDF, 931 KB])
- SAC066: SSAC Comment Concerning JAS Phase One Report on Mitigating the Risk of DNS Namespace Collisions (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/sac-066-en.pdf [PDF, 305 KB])
- Name Collision in the DNS (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/name-collision-02aug13-en.pdf [PDF, 3.34 MB])
- New gTLD Collision Risk Mitigation (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/new-gtld-collision-mitigation-05aug13-en.pdf [PDF, 165 KB])
- 26 February 2014 Report from JAS Global Advisors on “Mitigating the Risk of DNS Namespace Collisions” (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/name-collision-mitigation-26feb14-en.pdf [PDF, 322 KB])
- 10 June 2014 Report of Public Comments on “Mitigating the Risk of DNS Namespace Collisions” (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/report-comments-name-collision-10jun14-en.pdf [PDF, 229 KB])
- Name Collision Occurrence Management Framework (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/name-collision-framework-30jul14-en.pdf [PDF, 634 KB])
- 24 August 2016 letter from applicants for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/home-registry-inc-et-al-to-icann-board-24aug16-en.pdf [PDF, 104 KB])
- 6 March 2017 letter from Akram Atallah to the applicants for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL (https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/correspondence/atallah-to-home-registry-inc-et-al-06mar17-en.pdf [PDF, 239 KB])
- Applicant Guidebook, Sections 1.5 and 18.104.22.168 (https://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/agb/guidebook-full-04jun12-en.pdf [PDF, 5.9 MB])
Are there fiscal impacts or ramifications on ICANN?
The Board’s action will have a fiscal impact on ICANN. In reviewing the options described above, the Board considered the impact of providing a standard versus a full refund. The total estimated cost of providing all remaining 20 applicants the standard refund is $1,300,000, whereas the cost associated with a full refund is $3,700,000. The funds for a full refund would come from the New gTLD Program funds, which are made up of the application fees collected in the 2012 round (from all applicants). While the full refund amount differs from the standard refund amounts provided for in the AGB, the ICANN org anticipated that significant refunds might be issued for the remaining program applicants. As such, the financial impact to ICANN has been accounted for in the Operating Plan and Budget. The remaining funds as of the publication of the FY18 Operating Plan and Budget were $95,800,000.
Are there positive or negative community impacts?
Taking this action will help support ICANN’s mission and is the public interest to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems. This action benefits the ICANN community as it provides transparency and predictability to the applicants for .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL.
This is an Organizational Administrative Function that is not subject to public comment.