Domain Application Process Delayed

After missing the Aug. 1 deadline it set for itself in Yokohama a few weeks ago, The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers is giving registrants for new top-level domains less than a month to submit new proposals.

The organization will accept proposals for new top level domains (TLDs) beginning Sept. 5. While the original plan was to accept applications for two months, the deadline for receipt of proposals was pushed back only one day, to Oct. 2.

In an attempt to explain the delay, ICANN said that the large number of inquiries into the process for applying to sponsor or operate new TLDs had gummed up the works.

“The nature and extent of the inquiries makes clear that there is a significant amount of confusion regarding the process for applying, the evaluation of applications, and the steps that will follow toward implementation of TLDs,” ICANN said. “The ICANN staff has concluded that to achieve a responsible introduction of new TLDs it is important to provide the community with a more detailed overview of the entire application process before detailed application instructions are issued.”

ICANN’s guidelines for applications said each proposal should include a number of important details. First, each proposal must have full information about the technical, business, management and financial capabilities of the proposed operator of the registry. Second, proposals need to include detailed descriptions of policies to promote orderly registration of names during the introduction of a new TLD. Also, applicants must spell out the details of arrangements to protect users in the event of registry failure. Finally, applicants must include measures for minimizing use of the TLD to carry out infringements or other abuses of intellectual property rights.

ICANN’s board unanimously agreed to open the Domain Name System (DNS) to new TLDs at their meeting in Yokohama on July 16. But ICANN members have criticized the board for not addressing several important issues swirling around their creation. The resolution did not spell out how many new TLDs ICANN should allow, whether they should be generic (like .com or .net) or differentiated by use (like .edu, restricted to educational institutions), and what sort of copyright protections are needed. Others were angered that ICANN stipulated a $50,000 non-refundable application fee to cover the likely costs of the evaluation and approval process. A number of non-commercial Internet stakeholders said this was a further example of ICANN favoring the business community over individual users.

A two week period for comment will follow the close of the application period. ICANN has targeted Nov. 20 for announcement of its selections for new TLDs.

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