NC Dot Org Task Force report to the Names Council
11 January 2002
Presented by Milton Mueller, NC Dot Org TF Chair.
NAMES COUNCIL .ORG DIVESTITURE TASK FORCE v 5.4 (January 10, 2002)
The .org registry should be operated for the benefit of the worldwide community of organizations, groups, and individuals engaged in noncommercial communication via the Internet. Responsibility for .org administration should be delegated to a non-profit organization that has widespread support from and acts on behalf of that community.
The notions of sponsorship and restriction, as applied elsewhere in the gTLD process, do not provide an adequate framework for the .org divestiture. Some clear statement of administrative and marketing practices will be necessary but this must not result in an exclusive boundary being set around the community of eligible registrants. The manner in which the normative guidelines are labeled is not a primary consideration, but the framework should include all the points below.
1. Characteristics of the Organization to Administer .org
1a. The initial delegation of the .org TLD should be to a non-profit organization that is noncommercial in orientation and the initial board of which includes substantial representation of noncommercial .org registrants. We recognize that noncommercial registrants do not have uniform views about policy and management, and that no single organization can fully encompass the diversity of global civil society. Nevertheless, applicant organizations should be able to demonstrate international support and participation from a significant number of noncommercial .org registrants. The organization's policies and practices should strive to be responsive to and supportive of the noncommercial Internet user community, and reflect as much of its diversity as possible. While the initial delegation should be to an organization that meets the criteria described above, the ongoing governance arrangements should be open to any .org registrant.
1b. Applicants for operation of the .org registry should be recognized non- profit entities (understood to include corporations, associations, partnerships or cooperatives as those terms are defined in the legal jurisdiction in which the organization is established). Subcontracting of operational functions to for-profit providers is permitted.
1c. Applicants are encouraged to propose governance structures for the .org TLD that provide all .org registrants with the opportunity to directly participate in either the selection of officers, or the election of policy- making council members, or both. The bylaws should provide explicitly for an open, transparent and participatory process by which .org operating policies are initiated, reviewed and revised in a manner which reflects the interests of .org domain name holders and is consistent with the terms of its registry agreement with ICANN.
1d. In order to permit the largest number of qualified non-profit organizations to compete for award of the .org TLD contract, the Board should require no more than the equivalent of USD$200,000 in demonstrated financial resources from applicants.
2. Policy Guidelines for Applicants to Administer .org
2a. Definition of the .org community Each applicant organization should include in its application a definition of the relevant community for which names in the .org TLD are intended, detailing the types of registrants who constitute the target market for .org and proposing marketing and branding practices oriented toward that community.
The definition of the relevant community should be much broader than simply formal non-profit organizations. It must also include individuals and groups seeking an outlet for noncommercial expression and information exchange, unincorporated cultural, educational and political organizations, and business partnerships with non-profits and community groups for social initiatives.
2b. No eligibility requirements
Dot org will continue to be operated without eligibility requirements. With a definition of the served community and appropriate marketing practices in place, the organization and the registrars should rely entirely on end-user choice to determine who registers in .org.
* Must not propose to evict existing registrants who do not conform to its target community. Current registrants must not have their registrations cancelled nor should they be denied the opportunity to renew their names or transfer them to others.
* Must not attempt to impose any new prior restrictions on people or organizations attempting to register names, or propose any new dispute initiation procedures that could result in the cancellation of domain delegations. The UDRP would apply as per section 5 below, however.
2c. Surplus funds
Applicants should specify how they plan to disburse any surplus funds. Use of surplus funds for purposes not directly related to dot org registry operation is permitted, provided that the registry operation itself is adequately sustained and that the additional purposes bear some relationship to Internet use, administration and policy. For example, applicants are encouraged to propose methods of supporting and assisting non-commercial participants in the ICANN process. Uses intended only to subsidize other activities of the organization or its subsidiaries, activities that are not subject to oversight and management by the .org governance arrangements, should not be considered.
All ICANN-accredited registrars should be eligible to register names in .org. However, applicants are encouraged to propose methods of managing the relationship between the registry and registrars that encourage differentiation of the domain.
2e. Definition of marketing practices
Differentiation of the domain is a key policy objective in the transition, and new marketing practices are the primary tool for achieving that objective. Applicants should propose specific marketing policies and practices designed to differentiate the domain, promote and attract registrations from the defined community, and minimize defensive and duplicative registrations.
3. The Verisign endowment
Applicants should meet all requirements needed to qualify for the $5 million endowment from Verisign. Applications should describe how they propose to utilize the endowment and the timing of its use.
4. The Registry Operator
Any entity chosen by the TLD delegee to operate the .org registry (including itself) must function efficiently and reliably and show its commitment to a high quality of service for all .org users worldwide, including a commitment to making registration, assistance and other services available to ICANN-accredited registrars in different time zones and different languages. The ".org" registry should match or improve on the performance specifications of the current ".org" registry. The registry fee charged to accredited registrars should be as low as feasible consistent with the maintenance of good quality service. The registry- registrar protocol should either remain the same as the current ".org" registry, or it should match the new international standard for registry- registrar protocols being developed in the Internet Engineering Task Force.
5. ICANN Policies
The .org administration must adhere to policies defined through ICANN processes, such as policies regarding registrar accreditation, shared registry access, the uniform dispute resolution policy, and access to registration contact data via WHOIS.
6. Follow up
ICANN should invite applications from qualifying non-profit organizations to assume responsibility for operation of the .org registry with a deadline no later than 30 June 2002, so that an evaluation, selection and agreement process may be completed well in advance of the 31 December expiration of the current agreement with Verisign.
ICANN will provide an opportunity for the Names Council to review the request for proposals (RFP) prepared by the ICANN staff prior to its public dissemination, and will adjust the RFP as needed in consultation with the Task Force to ensure compliance with the policy. Application fees should be as low as possible consistent with the objective of discouraging frivolous applications.
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