September 8, 2008, New York - We never received a response to our requests for context information on the Economic Case for Auctions in New gTLDs paper ICANN posted on August 6 despite our Point of Information post, emails, and phone calls. The paper, written by ICANN staff and its “auctions partner” PowerAuctions LLC, concluded that an auction, not comparative evaluation, was the best means for allocating a contested city TLD.
The prevailing view has been that a comparative evaluation would discern a winner between contesting applicants for a city TLD. And while there’s been no indication of a formal shift in ICANN policy, without an indication from the ICANN as to the paper’s purpose or status, we thought it prudent to post our thoughts on the issue prior to the September 7 posting deadline. The post presented a bleak assessment of the result of an auction between a community focused, slow growth applicant (Connecting.nyc Inc.) and a financial value bidder:
My concern is absolutely fundamental. For if the recipient of the .nyc TLD is to be decided by auction, we will loose. And our hope of finally having the opportunity to put the full capabilities of the Internet - and that includes the DNS - to address the cities current needs and future growth opportunities, will be lost.
I concluded my comments with the following suggestions:
What the ICANN needs to do is acknowledge that there are entities called cities. That the DNS's historic neglect of these environmentally efficient locals, where more than ½ the earth's population now live, must end. The ICANN needs to recognize that cities have special needs that can be addressed by TLDs. And the ICANN needs to establish criteria and processes for judging the best application for this important civic resource.
This is a critical issue. And while it’s difficult to imagine that a shift of this magnitude would happen without public input - I’m still hoping the ICANN’s apparent lean toward auctions is just a vacation time, slip-through-the-cracks oversight by staff - we may need to send some enlightenment mojo to ICANN on this. So keep alert. (Commons photo courtesy of Jeremy Becker.)