Earlier today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing on ICANN's New gTLD Program. CADNA was pleased that Committee members took the time to review the New gTLD Program in this way; however, we were disappointed to see that much of the discussion circled around criticism of the Program, as well as requests to stop its progression, because it is clearly too late to stop it. The opportune time for that discussion was prior to the Program's approval on June 20.
Now, the discussion of new gTLDs should focus on how to improve the new gTLD policy in ways that will meaningfully improve it for businesses, non-profits, and consumers. CADNA sees this hearing as the beginning of frank and open discussions with lawmakers, ICANN and other stakeholders, not only about improving the New gTLD Program, but also about improving the policy development process that produced the Program in the first place.
"We remain committed to finding workable and attainable solutions to improve the New gTLD Program for businesses," said CADNA President Josh Bourne. "We as the Internet community need to stop complaining about a policy that was approved six months ago after years of deliberation. Our responsibility now, as stakeholders, is to figure out constructive ways improve this Program while we still can."
"CADNA's aim is to be a constructive partner in the Internet governance process. The Coalition has always supported the multistakeholder system and strongly believes that with some reforms, ICANN can better fulfill its designated mission. We do not at this time believe that it is in the best interest of the Internet community to repeal implementation of ICANN's gTLD policy, and delaying it would achieve nothing," said Phil Lodico, CADNA Vice President. "The NTIA, businesses, consumers, and other Internet stakeholders have accepted the policy and have begun to plan accordingly," he added. CADNA believes that repealing the policy would simply undermine global confidence in ICANN.
Unfortunately, ICANN's relationship with the business community – a group that will be significantly impacted by the New gTLD Program, and likely could bolster the success of the Program if it had more confidence to invest in it – remains antagonistic and continues to worsen as the new gTLD application period draws closer.
"We hope that this hearing will open a more fluid and productive dialogue between ICANN and the business community," said Bourne. "By establishing such a dialogue, it is possible to change the New gTLD Program in such a way that it will be less harmful to companies and their consumers."
It is not too late to modify the Program. Module 6, Term and Condition #14 in ICANN's Applicant Guidebook states that "ICANN reserves the right to make reasonable updates and changes to this applicant guidebook and to the application process at any time by posting notice of such updates and changes to the ICANN website, including as the possible result of new policies that might be adopted or advice to ICANN from ICANN advisory committees during the course of the application process." CADNA has developed a number of workable, achievable solutions that will alleviate the anxiety felt by businesses and decrease cybersquatting across both new and existing gTLDs, and is looking forward to presenting these to Congress, the administration, and to ICANN.
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