Posts Tagged ‘ICANN’

Navigating the .brand delegation process

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Corey GrantBy Corey Grant
29 July 2015

This is the second post in a series from Corey Grant, Senior Industry Consultant at ARI Registry Services, about how .brand TLDs can get started and make the most of their TLDs. You can read the first part here.

Today marks a major milestone for .brand Top-Level Domain applicants, as we pass the deadline set by ICANN for them to sign their Registry Agreement (RA).

For those who have knuckled down over the last few weeks and months to meet this deadline, congratulations – for many, this was no mean feat and the effort should be acknowledged.

At the same time, organisations that have reached this point need to remember that putting pen to paper is the first step of many; in order to get your TLD to a stage where it can be used, there is a process that now begins that can be complex, at best.

So what’s involved in getting a TLD delegated – and how long will it reasonably be before brands can start using their new TLDs?

The path from RA signing to delegation

At ARI, we were the first Registry to navigate the complex path to TLD delegation, when we launched شبكة. (‘web’ in Arabic and pronounced “dot shabaka”) in October 2013 as the world’s first new TLD.

In many respects, we were helping write the delegation process for all applicants as شبكة. traversed the process. In fact, our progress was recorded through a journal on Domain Incite which allowed other TLD applicants to learn from our experiences.

Since then we’ve spent almost two years gaining more experience and partnering with other Registry Operators to help them through the delegation process. Based on our experiences as a Registry Services Provider over the last few years, we’ve drawn up a timeline of the typical delegation process as a guide, which you can view below.

No matter what your plans are for your .brand TLD, it makes sense to move through the delegation process as efficiently as possible. That way you will have the ability to use your TLD, whether you currently plan to or not. Plans change, and I’ve seen clients have commercial opportunities to use the TLD at short notice, but were unable to do so because they did not prioritise moving through stages of the delegation process.

In the table below, the ‘typical timeframe’ we’ve estimated is based on our own client experiences. The process can sound complicated, but your Registry Services Provider should assist you in moving through these requirements and be able to execute steps such as pre-delegation testing and delegation on your behalf.

Also bear in mind that ICANN will now have a significant workload to manage, with approximately 170 .brand TLDs likely to begin the delegation process following today’s deadline. Given this, there is the possibility of a backlog being created that could cause further delays for some applicants.

Delegation is only one part of the process. Running parallel to the delegation timeline is another, arguably more daunting timeline for the commercial steps that must be considered to get a TLD ready for operation.

While time pressure means the delegation process is the most urgent step right now, once this is set in motion it should proceed with little effort required. For .brand TLD owners, the bigger focus should be on beginning the commercial steps to launching and using your .brand TLD such as stakeholder engagement and developing an implementation plan – elements of which I’ll examine further in the coming weeks.

DelegationProcessTimeline

Will the fast-approaching deadline for .brands catch many by surprise?

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Corey Grant
21 April 2015

29 July 2015 is a big day for .brands. It’s the date when all ICANN Registry Agreements (RA) must be signed.

Once the RA is signed, the fees to ICANN and your Registry Services Provider kick in.

As certain as you can be that ICANN will begin sending invoices, you can also expect to receive increased scrutiny internally. Questions are inevitable.

People will want answers; what is the plan for this thing? How does it fit into our long term corporate goals? Do marketing have a plan to use the TLD in the upcoming launch of our new product?

Signing the RA by 29 July shouldn’t be your next step. Working backwards, by July you need a plan for the TLD. The plan might be to leave the TLD in a state where it can be used at short notice if needed, or it might be to establish a promotional site to support an upcoming campaign.

Either way, you need to develop a plan that enables you to address those inevitable questions, set expectations and manage internal stakeholders.

What .brands need to know

The addition of Specification 13 to the RA was a win for .brand applicants, recognising their unique status as brands. This also bought some time for those .brand applicants who were in no rush to proceed, with ICANN providing a nine month extension to the deadline when eligible .brand applicants must sign their RA.

By now, if you’re responsible for a .brand TLD you could be forgiven for putting things off for as long as possible in the hope that the whole process of taking control of the TLD becomes clearer and easier.

The good news is that it looks like ICANN isn’t going to alter the process of signing your RA and then getting delegated. At ARI Registry Services, we’ve helped many clients go through the process and it is all pretty easy now.

The not-so-easy part is explaining to the rest of your organisation how you will use your .brand TLD. This brings us back to that comfortable cruise into 29 July 2015.

How do you create a TLD plan?

You need to rally all of your senior stakeholders and workshop your options.

Bringing this group together not only helps you access a broad range of ideas and risks, but you also get buy-in from stakeholders right from the start. However, don’t under-estimate the challenge of organising this workshop.

You’ll need an executive level sponsor to buy into the workshop concept – after all, you’re taking a large number of senior personnel and locking them in a room for multiple days. Then you’ll need to convince each stakeholder to block out their calendar and attend.

If you weren’t already the internal evangelist for this .brand TLD, you need to become one right now. The future of your brand is digital and your .brand TLD is the future of your digital brand. It is a major investment for your organisation. It is also a new concept for almost everyone in your organisation and it’s difficult for them to get their heads around the scope of the impact and the opportunity.

Chicken and egg

Which comes first? It’s tough to spend time and resources on something when most people in your organisation don’t see the opportunity. But to gain buy-in, you need to start down the path of nailing down the strategy and having a plan you can refer to.

The good news is that the benefits of having a .brand TLD – like increased messaging recall and customer engagement, freedom of domain name choice, digital brand authority and trademark protection – make a compelling story when applied to your brand. .

More than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 applied for a .brand TLD, and those brands without a TLD will be at distinct disadvantage in their digital marketing strategy very soon.

Is a workshop and the resulting plan all you need to do to launch your .brand TLD? Unfortunately not, you’ll eventually need a full strategy, project plan, policy framework, risk assessment, budget, and resources to launch and operate the TLD. But for now, the workshop is the next step.

My advice to .brand operators is to get moving now and have a plan – or at least a path to create a plan – by the July deadline.

3 steps for managing ICANN Registry compliance

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Tony KirschBy Corey Grant
14 April 2015

If you are like the majority of Registry Operators we have spoken to, you may now be thinking that compliance with your new gTLD Registry Agreement is much more difficult than first envisaged – especially if you are one of the lucky operators which have been chosen for ICANN’s latest round of registry audits!

You may also be surprised at the number of questions and requests that you need to respond to.

The good news is that you are not alone, and I’m pleased to share some of our lessons here, in the hope that it may assist others.

What to expect from ICANN Compliance

When the first new gTLDs were launched, ICANN indicated that compliance with the Registry Agreement would be handled in a reactive and consultative manner.

The reality is that, since the first TLD was delegated ( شبكة. which translates to .shabaka, or ‘web’ in Arabic), ICANN’s Compliance department has been significantly ramping up efforts to proactively enforce Registry Agreements. In fact, responses from Registry Operators can be sought from the time the Registry Agreement is signed, and in some cases before TLDs are even live.

Making compliance management even harder for applicants are the shifting sands on which requirements are being developed, especially given that some are still being finalised.

It had been broadly expected that the parameters for compliance were two-fold:

a. ICANN Compliance Notices to be issued to Registry Operators when clear issues were identified; and
b. Formal (random) audits, to occur as part of a three year audit plan.

Extra compliance requirements

In addition to the above, we are seeing ICANN issue Inquiries, which seemingly amount to Notices without clear explanation.

ICANN has to date issued these Inquiries under a very broad range of topics to almost all current Registry Operators, and these ostensibly informal Notices must be acted upon by the Registry Operator lest ICANN escalate the Inquiry into a Notice.

This third area of contact by ICANN has significantly broadened the ability of ICANN compliance to contact Registry Operators. As a result we are seeing some concerning real world examples of compliance issues such as:

• Receiving compliance Notices before Registry Operators had reached a point in the launch process where names could be registered; and

• Receiving Notices because marketing material didn’t exactly match TLD startup information, without consideration for the differing audiences for this information; and

• In one case that we’ve been involved with, issuing Notices based on incorrectly auto-generated error messages, causing Registry Operators to scramble to understand potential breach situations that didn’t exist.

As concerning and time consuming as managing notices, audits and inquiries can be, experience shows us that preparation and knowledge is the key to minimising their impact on daily operations.

How to manage ICANN compliance

Effective and comprehensive TLD policies + clear understanding of the requirements/industry + comprehensive processes + knowledgeable resources = COMPLIANCE

The solution isn’t a simple one, given that it requires such a broad understanding of Registry Operator practices and the new gTLD regulatory framework, but for ARI Registry Services’ clients we provide the people and resources to ensure compliance via a three step process.

1. Proactive ongoing management of daily tasks
Managing the ongoing ICANN obligations such as Add Grace Period Limit Policy implementation, Zone File Access management, ICANN monthly reports, reserved name compliance management, etc.

2. Industry Engagement
Monitoring and active lobbying in the compliance space in the best interests of Registry Operators, as well as ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the requirements and best ways of resolving known and potential issues for a wide variety of operating parameters.

3. ICANN Response
Once inquiries or notices are received, or in preparation for a known audit, ARI Registry Services’ compliance staff have the accumulated knowledge and technical record keeping behind them to adequately respond in a timely fashion, minimizing the impact on Registry Operators.

Compliance with the Registry Agreement is a time consuming and complex affair. It’s also an unforgiving exercise too; you only get once chance to get it right or otherwise you face the very real consequence of an ICANN breach notice. This is the reason why many of our clients have signed up for our Operational Services program.

ARI Registry Services is the only one-stop-shop that simplifies your technical operations, advocates for your commercial interests and removes the complexities of operating within the ICANN ecosystem.

By safeguarding their TLD asset and outsourcing the burden of compliance to ARI Registry Services, our clients can concentrate on their core business operations safe in the knowledge that they’re working with a proven and trusted partner.

Corey Grant is a Senior Industry Consultant with the ARI Registry Services consulting team.

 

What’s the ROI on a $20m TLD auction?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

RyanBakerBy Ryan Baker

Ryan Baker, ARI Registry Services’ Industry Consultant, offers insights into valuing a TLD and crafting a winning auction strategy to help applicants in contention sets secure their highly prized TLDs.

ICANN have taken a solid stance in regards to contention sets, with those yet to be resolved soon to be forced into auctions of last resort in the coming months. As expected, this has increased the velocity of private settlements between applicants, either via deals or private auctions.

It seems like most applicants (wisely) don’t want to see their funds going into ICANN coffers unnecessarily.

While the prices paid for TLDs at private auction are a closely guarded secret, talk abounds in industry circles of prices approaching US$20 million for some contention sets.

Are these prices an outstanding investment or sheer lunacy?

The answer lies in being able to implement a strategy that generates solid revenues, whilst understanding the true costs of running a TLD.

Take for example the .sex TLD which was recently reported as having sold for USD 3 million. Intuitively this could appear to be a bargain for perpetual ownership of such a strong keyword TLD, considering the size of the industry, and the fact that directly comparable but much less flexible assets sex.com and sex.xxx sold for $13 million and $3 million respectively.

Or was the price tempered given potential concerns of ‘unexpected’ delays or political concerns such as those that impacted the .xxx TLD or queries over the competitive impacts of .xxx, .adult, .porn etc.?

While domain industry hyperbole over auction prices may be no more than scuttlebutt, there can be no denying that there have been some exceptionally high auction prices through the transparent ICANN auction of last resort process, such as .vip ($3M), .buy ($4.5M) and .tech ($6.7M).

What price is too high to pay?

At some point, without an amazingly viral marketing campaign and a magically cheap operating plan, the operations of your TLD can send you broke within a short matter of time.

Having being tasked by some applicants to assist in this very issue, I’d like to share the first two questions I am generally asked when sitting down with customers to define a TLD auction strategy:

1. How do you appropriately value the asset to gain enough capital to win at auction?; and
2. At what price does this TLD become unsustainable in terms of ROI?

The answer to both of these questions can only be divined after comprehensive analysis of both sides of the ledger; the potential revenues AND the real-world costs. Each has their own significant considerations.

Revenue

Calculating forecasted registrations from Sunrise and ten years of operating is relatively simple.

However, smart applicants are thinking beyond just x% of the total target market * wholesale price and realizing that the real benefit of operating a TLD is in finding the hidden value of these complex assets.

The value in the key partnerships, spinoff properties, premium domain name sales and associated businesses (just to name a few) which will make far more revenue than just domain name sales.

Costs

The second part of any good analysis is costs.

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and in the case of a TLD, you’ve got the obvious costs such as your registry, marketing and registrar management, and the not so obvious including managing ICANN compliance and dealing with an increasingly volatile regulatory environment.

Each of these has the potential to send your business spiraling backwards if not managed correctly.

Understanding and predicting all of these cost centres is one of the most important elements of working out your TLD’s potential ROI. To effectively complete this task, you really need the insight of folks that have been managing TLDs for many years.

Next steps?

Firstly, you’re not alone here. If all of this applies to you, you can rest assured that it’s impacting your competitors too.

However, it is time for you to get serious. If your auction strategy can achieve more ROI than your competitors, then you’ll enter the auction with a strategic advantage that could prove the difference in your one shot at securing your TLD

A good auction strategy relies on two fundamental principles:.

1. Knowing what value the TLD represents to you
2. Knowing what value the TLD represents to your competitors

If you aren’t absolutely certain you know the answer to the two elements above, you might be blowing your one and only chance.

Having a clear vision, a strong auction strategy and some help from those with experience in the process will ultimately decide whether you walk away on auction day with big frown or a profitable TLD.

By Ryan Baker
Industry Consultant
ARI Registry Services

Still think .brands might be a waste of time? Google doesn’t!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

RyanBakerBy Ryan Baker

Like many, I’ve been watching the rollout of the first 150+ new Top-Level Domains (TLD) with interest.

The new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program was designed from the outset to enhance competition and foster innovation.

It was a great result for the wider industry to see approximately one-third of the applications received by ICANN submitted by some of the world’s largest companies seeking to own and operate their own .brand TLD.

Even with organisations such as Apple, Citibank and IBM applying for their respective TLDs, scepticism remained on the potential for .brands to succeed.

Where would the utility come from? How would customers embrace such a change? How would large organisations be able to incorporate this into their marketing mix?

Finally perhaps most ominous, what will it mean for search and will there be any advantages for .brand applicants?

While it’s still very early in the process, a few trailblazing true innovators have given us some preliminary answers and the news is extremely positive.

Evidence of real success

French insurance giant AXA recently launched their .axa TLD to the world and offer the best evidence to date that .brand TLDs have a definite future in the digital marketing landscape.

Less than two weeks after registering annualreport.axa and rapportannuel.axa in their .brand TLD, AXA now appear on the first page of Google search results. When searching for “axa annual report”, the .axa domain is the third result in English and “axa annuel rapport” appears in the fourth position for French searches.

Beyond just Google, Bing shows the result at number two and Yahoo at number eight.

This is a truly impressive result given the number of applicable web properties for this topic and the short amount of time the domain has existed. Yes, this has a lot to do with the relevance of the content – as it has been and will continue to be.

However, the domain is clearly reinforcing some level of credibility here and despite being new, hasn’t negatively impacted the rankings of the page.

The AXA annual report example also illustrates other key benefits of .brand TLD ownership. Using differing language versions of the same domain, they have been able to provide customised content for differing user bases.

With these included, the list of tangible benefits .brand TLD operators can realise immediately from their new asset are compelling:

1. Control

Being completely in control of domain name allocation within their TLD. No more competition for domain names in the open market, as well as the ability to define intuitive parameters for users to find content (eg. annualreport.axa for English, rapportannuel.axa for French).

2. SEO

Globally applicable search benefits. While the sample size is admittedly small, the reality that Google, Bing and Yahoo are actively embracing .brand TLDs for their authenticity and showing strong search results has the potential to be a huge boon to brands and end users.

3. Messaging

Guaranteed authenticity for messaging from the channel. Customers can rest easy knowing with 100% certainty that the content on annualreport.axa is sanctioned by AXA, since no one outside the corporation can register an .axa domain name. Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible for bad actors to register domains in competing TLDs with the aim of confusing end users, and a .brand is a new and extremely strong tool to combat this confusion.

AXAdomain

AXA’s .brand strategy actively combats bad actors.

While we’ve already seen three new .brand applicants sign registry agreements (.sharp and Google’s .gmail and .youtube) this month, the last several months have seen 256 total TLDs delegated, with only a handful (five total, or less that 2%) being .brands.

This is in addition to the world’s first .brand TLD, .monash for the Australian University and the recently signed .bmw and .samsung TLDs which are soon to join the digital landscape.

All in all, it’s really positive news for those innovators that took the plunge by applying in 2012.

So why wait?

There is no denying that ICANN has made the path through contracting and delegation complicated with various hoops to jump through.

The good news for .brand applicants is that there is help available should they require it. The upside is that the carrot is very real and very attainable.

Delegating and realising the benefits of a .brand TLD as soon as possible should be the goal of every brand marketer worth their salt, as .brand applicants push to delegate their TLDs and non-applicants clamour to apply to ICANN in the second round.

By Ryan Baker
Domain Name Industry Consultant
ARI Registry Services

Who are the true multi-stakeholders in ICANN?

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Donna Austin

Adrian Kinderis

During ICANN Durban, I attended the ccNSO 10 year anniversary celebrations.

ICANN Chairman, Dr Steve Crocker, was on hand to congratulate the ccNSO on their 10 years and revered them as the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.

Post Durban, I was reviewing notes and I came across a similar statement made during a ccNSO session that ccTLDs “represent the best functioning multi-stakeholder model” in the ICANN ecosystem.

Is this entirely accurate? Is the ccNSO really the golden child of ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model?

While there is no doubt that the ccNSO has been instrumental in influencing policy development and championing change for their cause, are they really ICANN’s “true multi-stakeholders”?

Let’s recap

When I first started attending ICANN meetings back in 2001 representing the Australian Government as the coordinator of the GAC, ccTLDs were pretty much sitting outside the tent. There was considerable distrust between the ccTLD community and ICANN at the time and regular meetings between the ccTLD operators and the GAC could be rather frosty events.

In 2005, when I joined ICANN staff as policy support for the ccNSO, relationships were slowly mending and both the ccTLDs and ICANN were recognising the mutual benefits of having ccTLD operators inside the ICANN tent.

So against this background, it is a tremendous achievement that the ccNSO is now well-established and an important contributor in the ICANN community.

However, the ccNSO has a stronger focus on collaboration, information sharing and best practice adoption, rather than a true aspiration for the Policy Development Process (PDP) that underpins a multi-stakeholder model. This is in large part because the participation of a ccTLD registry operator in the ccNSO and ICANN – and adoption of any policies that might be developed – is on a ‘voluntary’ basis.

ccTLDs are not bound by ICANN consensus policies and operate largely unfettered without interference from ICANN.

I don’t deny that within their respective countries or territories ccTLDs engage in multi-stakeholder style consultations and policy undertakings, but I do not agree that they are the ‘true multi-stakeholders in ICANN’.

While the ccNSO thoroughly deserves plaudits on a highly successful 10 years, I question whether they are the preeminent representation of the multi-stakeholder model.

The GNSO

Instead of the ccNSO, I would argue that the GNSO is the prime example of the multi-stakeholder model operating at its full capacity. It might at times look like a dog fight, but that’s the beauty of the model.

The GNSO has a long history of undertaking policy development processes and perhaps the most contentious and the one that still lingers is the PDP that recommended the introduction of new gTLDs.

I used to think it was inappropriate for those that stood to benefit from the new gTLD process to be involved in the policy development process that recommended the introduction of new gTLDs. But what I’ve come to appreciate and understand is that the only way for the ICANN experiment to succeed – at least in the short term – was to ensure that those who had a dog in the fight were involved in the process.

The development of the new gTLD program has been the process – while often times messy – that has led in large part to the maturation of ICANN and the expansion of the GNSO into a more diverse and dynamic set of interest groups. The process has also brought considerably more interplay across ICANN’s structure of supporting organisations, advisory committees, the ICANN Board and staff.

As ICANN contracted parties, there is also much more at stake for the gTLD registries in these PDPs as the outcomes will have some impact on their business. All gTLD registry operators sign contracts with ICANN acknowledging that they will be bound not only by consensus policies that exist at the time of signing the agreement, but any consensus policies approved at a later date.

So it’s understandable that some of the policy debates that take place within the GNSO are very robust, hard fought and lengthy. Finding consensus in such an environment should be applauded and exalted by ICANN and time should be taken by those new to ICANN to understand and appreciate the machinations of the process.

The GNSO should be ICANN’s flagship. It is the central policy organ that is so important to the bottom-up, consensus driven, multi-stakeholder model that is ICANN.

As Jonathan Robinson, Chair of the GNSO Council, noted prior to Durban:

“… ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model is complex, dynamic and necessarily evolving.”

Those of us that have been engaged in this community for a long time will understand the multi-facets of the SOs and ACs that collectively are the “true multi-stakeholders in ICANN”.

After 12 years of following this circus, I am finally starting to get it.

By Donna Austin
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer
ARI Registry Services

Navigating online in Arabic key to greater regional Internet participation

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

By Adrian Kinderis

Adrian KinderisIn a special opinion editorial first published by ITP Magazine, Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, explains why nurturing an end-to-end Arabic online experience will be important to address the needs of the next 90 million Arabic Internet users.

By Adrian Kinderis
Dubai, UAE – Monday 4 March 2013

The next time you’re driving down the D89 Airport Road to Dubai International Airport, take a moment to look at the advertising billboards. In particular, look at the domain names used in the call to action.

You will notice a number of Arabic advertisements aimed entirely at an Arabic audience that strangely feature domain names written in English.

How can we expect the Arabic community to navigate to online content using domain names written in a foreign language? Furthermore, how many real world and e-commerce transactions are missed because an Arabic speaker was unable to navigate online?

The problem is that while there have been advancements in Arabic content and applications, the very infrastructure used to navigate online has not kept pace – namely the regional domain name market.

We know the next billion Internet users won’t come from English speaking countries. The same can be said for the Arab region; the next 90 million Arabic Internet users will expect to navigate the Internet in their native language.

The writing is on the wall – and it is in Arabic script. Arabic is the fastest growing language online with growth of more than 2500 percent between 2000 and 2011. Arabic is also the fastest-growing language on Twitter.

These roadside billboards offer an insight into the challenges faced by Arabic speakers online and highlights the limitations of the regional domain name market and the options available to businesses wanting to register domain names. It shows there is a disconnect between an increasingly online-orientated society and the accessibility of participation.

Is it no wonder that many local Internet users rely on Google to navigate the Internet? Why should they have to rely on a third party to seek out the content they are looking for?

What we need is an end-to-end Arabic online experience for the Arabic speaking community. This means an Arabic keyboard to type in an Arabic domain name to visit Arabic content.

The solution is Arabic Internationalised Domain Names which eliminate the reliance on traditional Latin scripts and instead allow Arabic speakers to navigate in their own language. Non-Latin Arabic script domains will be a significant factor in helping the next wave of Arab Internet users navigate to online Arabic content.

There are a number of countries already hosting Arabic script domains, including the United Arab Emirates (امارات.), Oman (عمان.) and Qatar (قطر.). These national digital assets are of enormous value to their respective countries and the citizens who access the Internet through them. However, they are being underutilised and are limited to the boundaries of the individual countries – stifling region-wide participation.

However, later this year, a new Arabic script domain name is set to revolutionise the Internet in the Arab region.  شبكة. (.shabaka – translates to .web in Arabic) will establish an entire corner of the Internet completely dedicated to the Arabic language, culture and society.

Unlike the national Arabic scripts currently available, شبكة. will be the first cross-border Arabic Top-Level Domain extension open to all Arabic speakers across the region. It will provide an emotive connection between Arabic culture and the community while opening an online channel to intuitively connect Arabic speakers to online Arabic content.

Initiatives such as  شبكة. will help bridge the gap between Arabic content and Arabic speaking Internet users. It will help provide the platform needed to fuel greater Arabic orientated online entrepreneurism and innovation.

Furthermore, there are commercial incentives for Arab-based organisations to help break down the accessibility barriers. To put a price on this, the Gulf Cooperation Council predicts B2C e-commerce sales in the region will reach around $15 billion by 2015. Savvy business leaders would be wise to recognise this commercial potential.

The big question is, who is responsible for facilitating this end-to-end Arabic online experience? The beauty of the Internet means it will be a collaborative approach from the business sector generating the Arabic content, to policy makers raising greater awareness and the industry providing the technology and platform.

I strongly believe that this will go a long way to removing the barriers to greater Internet participation in the Arab region.

It is my prediction that in the near future we will see a greater number of Arabic advertising billboards targeting Arabic speakers with Arabic script domain names such as شبكة. directing viewers to engaging online Arabic content.

The dawn of the end-to-end Arabic online experience is upon us.

By Adrian Kinderis
Adrian is CEO of ARI Registry Services, a global domain name technology company. Adrian discussed the topic of developing a robust Internet in the Arab region during his keynote address at the ‘Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance in the Arab world’ forum on Monday 4 March 2013 at the Radisson Royal Dubai.

First insights from the GAC Early Warnings on new Top-Level Domains

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Today, the national governments that constitute ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) for the first time publicly voiced their concerns over specific new Top-Level Domain (TLD) applications in the form of Early Warnings.

More than 240 individual GAC Early Warnings were issued in relation to 200 new TLD applications which account for 162 unique strings.

By far the most prolific government to issue GAC Early Warnings was the Australian government with 129. This was followed by Germany with 20 and France 19.

As expected, a large number of the 240 Early Warnings related to closed generic string TLD applications (100 Early Warnings). It appears a number of governments are concerned about brands or entrepreneurs owning a specific generic word and closing the door on public registrations in these namespaces.

Early Warnings were also issued for strings that are linked to regulated market sectors, such as the financial, health and charity sectors.

The continent with the most Early Warnings was Asia Pacific (154), followed by Europe (51) and Africa (30). This is in stark contrast to the distribution of new TLD applications across the globe which saw more than 80% of applicants come from North America and Europe.

Other interesting insights include:

• Amazon (an applicant for 76 new TLDs) has received 27 GAC Early Warnings
• Google (an applicant for 98 new TLDs) has received only 5 GAC Early Warnings
• 19 IDN new TLD applications received a GAC Early Warning
• DotConnectAfrica’s application for .africa received 17 Early Warnings. UniForum SA’s application for .africa received no Early Warnings.
• Despite being very vocal regarding their objections to certain strings, Saudi Arabia cannot participate in the Early Warning process as they are not a member of the GAC.

Below is an image which provides an overview of the distribution of GAC Early Warnings.

A GAC Early Warning is a mechanism by which the national government representatives who comprise the GAC can signal their potential concerns with specific new TLD applications that are controversial or sensitive. Receipt of a GAC Early Warning allows an applicant to be eligible to receive an 80% refund of their application fee.

Many Early Warnings offer remediation steps to be taken by the applicant which may appease any concerns the governments have. However, applicants are not obliged to take any action.

GAC Early Warnings are a pathway to formal GAC Advice to the ICANN Board in April 2013 following ICANN Beijing. GAC Advice requires consensus of the GAC and may indicate that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN. The biggest question moving forward will be how exactly consensus will be reached.  Watch this space!

While many applicants were nervously anticipating the announcement of today’s Early Warnings, the majority of applicants will be pleased with the results. Next hurdle: GAC Advice in April 2013.

By Yasmin Omer
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer at ARI Registry Services

NOTE: Every effort has been made to accurately report the statistics in this blog. However, some statistics may need to be updated with further analysis

Brussels mandate: Community-developed TMCH gains ascendancy

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

By Chris Wright

ICANN has tentatively agreed to proceed with the community-developed Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) model following two days of discussions at a specially organised informal meeting in Brussels last week.

I believe this is an important breakthrough for the intellectual property, registry and registrar communities as it provides the best harmony between technical implementation and best practice trademark protection policy.

While it is yet to be ratified, the decision to support the processes described in the community TMCH model paves the way for discussions to now focus on how to technically implement this model.

The extraordinary and somewhat unprecedented level of collaboration and negotiation from all parties involved in the TMCH discussions over the past four months warrants congratulation, as does the leadership of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé who has been instrumental in facilitating this agreement.

The Brussels TMCH mandate

Just weeks after holding productive workshops at ICANN 45 in Toronto, representatives from the intellectual property and business constituencies, registries, registrars and senior ICANN representatives gathered again in Brussels on 1 and 2 November to negotiate a solution to the stalemate over exactly how the TMCH should be implemented.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss issues related to the implementation of the TMCH as it is described in the Guidebook. This excluded all policy related issues regarding rights protection mechanisms outside of what has already been agreed upon in the Guidebook.

At the top of the agenda were talks to find agreement about which TMCH model best serves the interests of stakeholders – the original ICANN model or the recently published alternative community-developed model.

Concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the original ICANN model. I, and a number of other registries and registrars, have been vocal opponents of ICANN’s original TMCH model because we believe it is too complex and burdensome in the way it achieves its objectives.

In September, we released three whitepapers which described the flaws associated with ICANN’s model and offered an overview of why the community-developed implementation model would achieve the same objectives without these burdens.

After many hours of deliberation, agreement was formed to support the community-developed model and proceed with discussions about how to technically implement it.

The next step

The decision to move forward with the community-developed model means we are now one (big) step closer to building a fully functional TMCH in time for the first delegation of new Top-Level Domains (TLD) which is set to occur in 2013.

This should come as welcome news to all new TLD applicants.

As agreed in Brussels last week, the next step in this process will be a meeting in Los Angeles on 15 and 16 of November to finalise the technical details of the implementation of the TMCH. These details have been missing from all previous discussions because of the lack of certainty about which model would be utilised.

Now that there is agreement on the implementation as described in the community-developed model, we can proceed with discussions about the nitty-gritty technical details involving the integration between registries, registrars and the clearinghouse provider.

Following the Los Angeles meeting, work will begin on writing the TMCH implementation specifications. ICANN will then finalise contractual agreements with the TMCH provider in anticipation of go-live shortly thereafter.

This is a remarkable turnaround in events considering the entire new TLD program was at risk if a workable solution could not be found. There is now light at the end of the tunnel and this is credit to the extensive collaboration that has been seen throughout the development of the TMCH.

Congratulations to everyone involved and well done. We are nearly there.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer at ARI Registry Services

Groundswell must continue to oppose greater internet control

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In a special opinion piece article first published in the Sydney Morning Herald (23 Oct 2012), Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services, provides his thoughts on Internet governance, ICANN and the ITU.

Earlier this month I joined federal senators, industry leaders, government advisors, stakeholder groups and concerned citizens in Canberra for Australia’s inaugural Internet Governance Forum (auIGF) to help shape the future of the internet in Australia.

On the agenda were a number of important panel discussions from cyber security to privacy and digital inclusion.

However, there was one topic above all others that captured my attention: the discussion about the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) move to seek greater controls over the internet.

The ITU, a United Nations agency, will hear proposals to overhaul the regulations governing the internet at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) being held in Dubai in December.

The 11-day conference will host the rewriting of the international telecommunication regulations that govern the world’s telecommunications traffic. On the agenda is reworking the system of internet controls.

Countries such as Russia have called for restrictions over the internet where it is used to interfere in the internal affairs of a state. Opponents have claimed this represents a dramatic threat to the openness of the internet, where countries could regulate content not just within their own borders but globally.

Supporters are calling for a change from the current multi-stakeholder governance model, under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to a government-control model.

The ITU’s internet power grab

Although a number of governments and industry groups have voiced strong opposition to any move to give the ITU more authority over the internet, this is not guaranteed. Efforts must continue to protect the digital economy and our current internet freedoms.

In her opening address  to the auIGF, the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, spoke about the Australian government’s strong support of the ICANN model.

“The ITU does not need to take on the role of governing the internet. It has its own contribution to make, one which is valuable and which should not be changed,” Senator Lundy said. “We need the work that both ICANN and the ITU do. Each of these bodies should play to their own strengths and not seek to encroach on the responsibilities of others.”

Australia is not alone in taking this stance. In August, the US State Department submitted its initial proposals for the WCIT calling for a continuation of the current ICANN framework.

In May, a US bipartisan House committee resolution – H. Con. Res. 127  – argued the internet should be free of international regulation.

“Given the importance of the internet to the global economy, it is essential that the internet remain stable, secure and free from government control … The structure of internet governance has profound implications for competition and trade, democratisation, free expression and access to information … Countries have obligations to protect human rights, which are advanced by online activity as well as offline,” the House resolution said.

There’s been no shortage of people lining up to criticise the ITU over its proposals. The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Software and Information Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council, among others, have all expressed concern over the ITU’s moves.

Who can govern the Internet? ICANN

The US-based non-profit group ICANN manages the internet’s addressing system through a transparent, multi-stakeholder model.

The beauty of the current model is it promotes participation and input from end users all the way through to governments. This open, inclusive model has made the internet a successful driver of social and economic growth.
Research published by McKinsey last year on the economies of the G-8 nations found the internet contributes 3.4 per cent to GDP. It recommended public-sector leaders ought to promote broad access to the internet since usage, quality of infrastructure and online expenditure are correlated with higher growth in per capita GDP.

The lessons learnt from the McKinsey research suggest governments should support policies which encourage greater use of the internet to boost economic development – a move that is in contrast to proposals already put forth for the ITU’s December conference.

There is a threat that the ITU will bring a “closed approach” to internet governance which would exclude participation from the private sector and end users. Given its importance to the global economy, it is essential the internet remains stable, secure and free from overzealous government control.

I’m confident the groundswell of opposition will be effective in defeating the ITU’s proposals. I have faith that common sense will prevail.

Forums such as ICANN and the auIGF are crucial in advancing and promoting the transparent, bottom-up, consensus-driven internet we have today.

Let’s continue to innovate and drive progress, rather than restrict and undo all this good work.

Adrian Kinderis is CEO of ARI Registry Services, an international domain name technology infrastructure company. He joined industry experts from Google, auDA, APNIC and Internet NZ on a special panel at the auIGF to examine internet governance.

This article first appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday 23 October 2012.