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[ga] new WG on chartered/sponsored TLDs

I am interested in forming a new dnso working group.  I have been in
touch with Carolyn Chicoine and others on the NC on the topic, and it
appears that 1) there will be a formal procedure for proposing a new WG
sometime in the not too distant future (but probably after Cairo); and
2) on the other hand, if several NC members can be persuaded to support
it, a WG could instituted through informal procedures.  Either way is
fine by me, and I will pursue both avenues as appropriate.

In the meantime, I wonder if there might be some interest in the GA in 
discussing the matter.  Just in case people are interested in such a 
discussion, here are some random points and issues that occur to me:

A.  Chartered TLDs

0) There are those who disagree with the notion of chartered TLDs on
basically spiritual grounds.  That is, they believe that *all* decisions
concerning operation of the TLD, and criteria for use, should determined
by the registry.  In this view, ICANN/DNSO should have no involvement 
in such decisions.

I can appreciate that point of view as a philosophical point, but I am
not interested in discussing it in this proposed WG.  The purpose of the
WG I propose is not to decide whether ICANN should authorize chartered
TLDs -- the purpose, instead, is a good-faith exploration of the issues 
that would be involved if they were authorized

1) Why not do this in WG-C? WG-C has as its charter discussion of new
gTLDs, with emphasis on the "g", and I think *that* discussion should
remain in WG-C.  There is some overlap, but there are many unique 
issues in the area of charters and sponsors, and WG-C already has a 
rather full plate. (Some might say "too full".  In fact, one of my concerns 
about DNSO processes in general is that they tend to be very large scale 
and unfocussed.  More narrowly focussed WGs tend to be more likely to 
accomplish things, in my limited experience.)

2) One of the frequently mentioned criticisms of "charters" is that they
would be difficult to enforce.  Such critics point to .edu as an example
of a failed charter.  Others think that enforcement is not anywhere near
as difficult as that, and point to .edu as an example of a successful
chartered TLD.  How rigorous does enforcement have to be?  If .1% of 
the SLDs in a cTLD would fail to meet the criteria in the charter, what 
are the potential harms?

3) Enforcement of a charter has costs -- what mechanisms can be used to 
enforce them?  How would the costs be allocated.

4) The base enforcement widget in a chartered TLD is a contract a
customer signs with the registrar/registry, which includes their 
agreement to the terms of the charter.  What are the legal 
characteristics of a charter and such a contract that would make them
enforcable in a cost-effective way?

5) Presuming that ICANN decides to implement chartered TLDs, an approval
process for charters would be required.  Presumably the approval process
would involve a set of well-defined criteria, as well as possibly some
form of required public/dnso review.  What are the criteria for good
charters? What would be the appropriate public/dnso review process? What
would be the legal liability of a public review process?

B. Sponsored TLDs

The term "sponsored TLD" (or sTLD) may be unfamiliar, since it is
relatively recent.  A "sponsored TLD" is a TLD that has a "sponsor" -- 
an organization that is given control over policy for the TLD in 
question.  A sponsored TLD may or may not have an associated
charter -- the two concepts are somewhat orthogonal.  The European 
Commission is trying to get .eu approved as a quasi-ccTLD; but if there 
was a mechanism in place for approving sponsored TLDs, the EC might try 
to get .eu approved with the EC as its sponsor.  Note that the 
"sponsor" and the "registry" are distinct -- the EC could contract with 
any competent registry to provide registry services.

Another potential example of a sponsored TLD is Eric Brunner's .naa TLD 
-- there the sponsor is a "consortium" of tribal 
governments/organizations that would assume policy responsibility for 
the TLD.

Yet another example would be a ".movie" TLD, where the sponsoring
organization would be a hypothetical international consortium of movie
production companies that would take policy responsibility for the tld.  
This TLD might also have a charter, that it would be restricted to 
commercial sites publicizing movies -- the purpose of the TLD most 
emphatically does not need to be non-commercial.

And again, there have been discussions of a TLD reserved for technical 
support of IP Telephony.  The sponsors would be an international 
consortium of telephone companies.

Two immediate questions come to mind:  

1) what are the characteristics required for an organization to take
policy control over a TLD? Stability, of course, would be very high on
the list, because sponsorship would be something that would be very
difficult to revoke.  I've used the code phrase "international 
consortium" fairly freely -- what standards of openness etc would such 
consortia require before they could be considered as a sponsor.  (Note 
that ICANN is effectively delegating some hypothetical policy 
authority, and thus it could be argued that the delegatees should share 
some of the characteristics of ICANN.)

2) what are boundaries of the policy authority of a sponsor?

Any thoughts?

Kent Crispin                               "Do good, and you'll be
kent@songbird.com                           lonesome." -- Mark Twain
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