Shocker: ICANN Nixes Expressions of Interest for New TLDs

No Expressions of Interest for new top level domain names.

I guess I’m not in the internal loop at ICANN, but I’m surprised that its board voted to completely nix the idea of “Expressions of Interest” for new top level domain names.

The idea was simple. If you want to apply for a new top level domain name, you would make a $55,000 deposit per TLD and name the string.

This would resolve a whole host of issues. First, we’d know how many TLDs will be applied for when the new TLD application process starts. This could resolve issues with root zone scaling, assuage trademark interest fears (or at least let them know what they’re dealing with), and uncover possible conflicts and issues that will rear their heads when the application process starts (and it’s too late to do anything about it).

But ICANN’s board decided the costs of running the EOI were outweighed by the costs of a potential delay to new gTLDs by using resources for EOI, not knowing the date the overarching issues for new TLDs will be resolved, and difficulty synchronizing the new TLD progress with the EOI process. So ICANN wants to focus staff resources on resolving remaining new TLD issues rather than doing the EOI.

Practically speaking, this means we’ll go into the new TLD process blind. We’ll have no idea how many TLDs will be applied for. We’ll have to resolve root zone scaling for the prospect of 100 TLDs or 10,000 TLDs. We won’t understand potential string conflicts and gaming until its too late.

That’s unfortunate.

Yes, there are issues with the proposed EOI. But it seems to me that the benefits of EOI outweighed the costs.

Governments Deliver Another Blow to New Top Level Domain Timeline

GAC asks to postpone expressions of interest for new top level domain names.

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is asking ICANN to delay a decision on the so-called “Expressions of Interest” process for new top level domain names.

In a letter dated January 26, GAC Chairman Janis Karklins says that the period of community feedback has been to short and more time is needed to deliberate and fully understand the implications of the EOI process. The chairman is also miffed that ICANN didn’t ask GAC for its opinion: “no request has been made for GAC’s opinion, despite the clear public policy implications of the proposal.”

GAC’s concerns are threefold: the process will aid ICANN insiders, it will allow a speculative market for EOI application slots, and that it will penalize developing country applicants and non-profits.

I suspect the later concern is over the $55,000 price tag for submitting an expression of interest. But I have to ask, if an entity can’t fork over $55,000 for an EOI, how will they come up with the other $130,000 necessary to apply, let alone the hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a registry?

GAC is asking ICANN to postpone making a decision until after the Nairobi meeting.

ICANN May Green Light EOIs for New Top Level Domains in February

Expressions of Interest for new TLDs move forward.

The idea for “Expressions of Interest” for new top level domain names cleared a hurdle last week, as ICANN’s board asked staff to push forward on the idea.

The unofficial minutes from the ICANN board meeting on December 9 explain what will happen next:

Whereas ICANN staff has presented an analysis of the potential benefits of an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process, and has developed a preliminary EOI process model for ICANN Board discussion;

Whereas the board discussion has resulted in some preliminary determinations pending formalizing the EOI process model and obtaining public comment on those determinations;

Resolved, (2009.12.09.05), ICANN staff is hereby directed to record and publish for public comment the risks and considerations considered by the board and the ICANN Board’s determinations on the EOI process model. Staff is also directed to continue undertaking additional analysis on those determinations.

Resolved, (2009.12.09.06), ICANN staff shall summarize: a) the public comments resulting from the publication of the risks and considerations considered by the board, b) ICANN Board’s determinations on the EOI process model, and c) the additional staff analysis undertaken; and present that summary to the ICANN Board. Further, along with that summary ICANN staff shall present a proposed EOI process model for approval at the ICANN Board’s February 2010 meeting.

To understand the Expressions of Interest idea better, listen to DNW Radio’s interview with Antony Van Couvering. And for a bit of humor, take a look at my list of new TLDs I’ll express an interest in if ICANN decides to make the EOI fees too low.