The Nexus Policy for the .nyc TLD will determine which people and organizations qualify to use a .nyc domain name. Connecting.nyc Inc. proposes that a strong connection to New York City be required as a prerequisite to acquire a .nyc domain name as this promotes accountability and the long term sustainability of the TLD.
The Third Level - Creating a TLD for All New Yorkers -
While nexus policies that restrict access help create a quality TLD, they also exclude.
Third level domain-names and certifying organizations are one way to provide access to all. Here are a few examples of "name zones" created using third level names.
These third level names provide both identity and community, with access and oversight based on usufruct. See TLD Architecture for more on the Third Level.
Latin 101 for TLD Oversight
Nexus - Nexus comes from the Latin "nectere" as in fruit nectar and its sticky state when dry. In the context of the .nyc TLD, nexus is used to explain the degree of connectedness required to own a .nyc domain name.
Usufruct - The right of enjoying all the advantages derivable from the use of something that belongs to another, as far as is compatible with the substance of the thing not being destroyed or injured.
- In 6.(b)(ii)(B) of the NeuStar Agreement it identifies a qualified applicant for a domain name as one who has a bona fide presence in the City, with this determined by the fact that it "maintains an office or other facility in the City for a lawful business, noncommercial, educational or governmental purpose, and not solely or primarily to permit it to register for a .NYC domain name;
Does this mean that someone that maintains a server facility in the city for the purpose of discussing and or promoting a city resource, for example, a street, building, or other place or object, qualifies for a domain name?
- Section 6.(b)(ii)(C) of the contract identifies a qualified applicant as one who "regularly performs lawful activities outside of the City; provided that such activities relate to, or are primarily directed towards residents, tourists, businesses and organizations within the City (e.g., online content related to the City).
Does this mean any entity selling tickets to a NYC event or publishing tourist information qualifies for a .nyc domain name?
- Section 6.(h) requires that "Neustar will establish contacts by which it will (i) accept complaints from the City and (ii) accept complaints from third parties, claiming the owner of a .NYC domain name does not satisfy the applicable Nexus Category.
How are these 3rd parties identified?
- Perhaps the biggest hole in Nexus lies in its enforcement, or lack thereof. Where the agreement says in 6.(g)
"On at least a weekly basis, Neustar will conduct random spot checks of at least fifty (50) .NYC domain names to determine whether their owners satisfy the applicable Nexus Category. Domains will be manually reviewed for accuracy, and any domain found to contain patently inaccurate information or where there is a high likelihood of a nexus violation will be flagged for further investigation."
During the first days of Phase 2 and landrush, there are likely to be thousands of domain names registered. The stipulation that "at least 50" of these be examined could provide thousands of domain names to those lacking nexus. With a minor financial involvement and little civic pride, this will potentially enable thousands of foxes into the barnyard and reduce the potential for creating a city of trust.
NYS Nexus Proof
New York city's answer to Question 29 of the ICANN application stated that phase 2 of the registration process was to be "reserved for businesses, organizations and legal entities that have a physical address in the City and have paid City taxes within its most recent fiscal year." This was dropped for a reason that remains unknown.
What do others require?
New York State requires of those applying for a NYS Arts grant to prove residency.
"Two documents per individual from the list below. All documentation must contain the individual’s name and address. Documentation must be dated no earlier than 2013.
"We must have two different documents for each person listed in the project title. For example: Smith/Jones: Suburban Landscapes requires a total of 4 forms of proof of residency while Thompson: Green Design requires 2 forms of proof.
Credit card and/or bank statement (name and address page only; financial and account information should be blocked).
NYS or Federal Tax Form (first page only; social security and financial information should be blocked).
Current lease or mortgage agreement for a home residence listing the individual’s name and showing a NYS address.
NYS Driver’s license or NYS ID card.
Voter’s Registration card.
Nexus Strengthening Steps
The nexus policy can be strengthened by implementing the following:
- Require that applications for domain names be delivered by hand for the first 90 days.
- Provide the opportunity for existing entities to apply for their parallel domain names during a priority period, like that run under the London Priority Rules.
- Limit purchasers to one name per day.
- Require that the credit card is registered in New York City.
TLDs such as .com, .org, and .net, do not have a nexus requirement: anyone, anywhere can own one. One need only go to the website of one of several hundred registrars that retail domain names, e.g., godaddy.com, and if a desired name is available, purchase it.
Top level domains such as .edu, .gov, or .museum are referred to as sponsored or community TLDs and have strong nexus requirements. (See nexus definition in sidebar.) To qualify for a domain name one must demonstrate membership or other connection to the sponsor. For example, to qualify today for a .edu domain, one must be a post-secondary institution recognized by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. If an institution violates the terms of the contract under which an .edu name is issued, the right to use the .edu name can be rescinded.
The .nyc TLD nexus requirement is a pivotal policy decision. Nexus will determines who has access and who is excluded. It will bare on the local and global image of the .nyc TLD, the city's dynamic of development, and the economic viability of the domain, and perhaps of the city itself.
Nexus Policy - April 1, 2014
The following Nexus policy was posted on the city's nic.nyc site on April 1, 2014.
The City of New York desires to have only those individuals or entities having a substantive and lawful connection to the City be permitted to register for .NYC domain names ("Nexus Policy").
- Registrants in .NYC must be either:
- a natural person whose primary place of domicile is a valid physical address in the City of New York (“Nexus Category 1”); or
- an entity or organization that has a physical street address in the City of New York (“Nexus Category 2”).
- The existence of a P.O. Box address in the City of New York shall not qualify for purposes of meeting the Nexus Policy.
- Registrants must agree in their Agreement with their Registrar and/or Reseller, whichever applicable, that they are in compliance with all relevant Federal, New York State and New York City laws, including the tax requirements for conducting business via the Internet. Registrants may find more information about compliance with the City tax laws at the City of New York Department of Finance’s website (currently at www.nyc.gov/finance).
- Registrants must remain in compliance with the applicable Nexus Category for the entire period of such domain name’s registration by the registrant.
- Registrants may not license, sub-delegate or otherwise transfer .NYC domain names to third parties that otherwise fail to meet the requirements of this Nexus Policy.
We have two concerns with this policy.
- Verification - The agreement with the contractor called for 50 registrants to be manually checked per week. With the .berlin TLD having registered 40,000+ names the first week, this seems a bit faint-hearted.
- P.O. Boxes - While the Nexus agreement states that "The existence of a P.O. Box address in the City of New York shall not qualify for purposes of meeting the Nexus Policy." there seems to be a loophole created by narrowly defining the P.O.Box, which we presume to be boxes rented by the United States Postal Service, and not to include "virtual offices," "remailers," "private mail boxes," and other entities that provides those outside the city with the address bone fides to establish a local presence. At a May 12, 2014 .NYC Advisory Board meeting the contractor requested that those more local than the Virginia-based Neustar assist with identifying such entities. We created a Nexus Support Program in response, seeking to identify entities providing these possible "evasion" addresses. Language needs to be inserted into the extant domain name nexus policy that forbids use of these P.O. Box circumvention techniques.
Nexus Policy in 2012 contract between city and NeuStar
The following is the nexus policy as contained in the AGREEMENT By and Between THE CITY OF NEW YORK and NEUSTAR.
6. Nexus to The City of New York.
(a) The City desires to have only those individuals or entities having a substantive and lawful connection to the City be permitted to register for .NYC domain names ("Nexus Policy").
(b) Registrants in .NYC must be either:
(i) a natural person whose primary place of domicile is in the City of New York ("Nexus Category 1"); or
(ii) an entity or organization that has a bona fide presence in the City of New York ("Nexus Category 2"). Factors that should be considered in determining whether an entity or organization has a bona fide presence in the City shall include, without limitation, whether such prospective registrant:
(A) regularly performs lawful activities within the City related to the purposes for which the entity or organization is constituted (e.g., selling goods or providing services to customers, conducting regular training activities, attending conferences), provided such activities are not conducted solely or primarily to permit it to register for a .NYC domain name; and
(B) maintains an office or other facility in the City for a lawful business, noncommercial, educational or governmental purpose, and not solely or primarily to permit it to register for a .NYC domain name; and
(C) regularly performs lawful activities outside of the City; provided that such activities relate to, or are primarily directed towards residents, tourists, businesses and organizations within the City (e.g., online content related to the City).
(c) Registrants will be able to register for .NYC domain names during one or more (if applicable) Phases (as described in Section 4(h) of the SOW).
(d) Registrants must remain in compliance with the applicable Nexus Category for the duration of the domain name's life cycle.
(e) Neustar shall require Registrars in the RRA to have registrants provide the registration information required by ICANN for the WHOIS standard for .NYC.
(f) To the extent permitted by ICANN, Neustar will require that Registrars certify that they enforce the Nexus Policy upon their registrants, and that Registrars require registrants to certify that they satisfy the Nexus Policy.
(g) On at least a weekly basis, Neustar will conduct random spot checks of at least fifty (50) .NYC domain names to determine whether their owners satisfy the applicable Nexus Category. Domains will be manually reviewed for accuracy, and any domain found to contain patently inaccurate information or where there is a high likelihood of a nexus violation will be flagged for further investigation. The sponsoring Registrars for these domain names will be notified of the investigation and the registrants will be required to provide additional evidence that they meet the Nexus requirements.
(h) Neustar will establish contacts by which it will (i) accept complaints from the City and (ii) accept complaints from third parties, claiming the owner of a .NYC domain name does not satisfy the applicable Nexus Category.
(i) If a domain name owner does not satisfy the Nexus Category because it lacks the requisite nexus as described in Section 6(b) above, Neustar will place the name on a 30- 5 day hold, during which time the Registrar will be notified and given the opportunity to have the registrant comply with the applicable Nexus Category and provide proof of such compliance. If no action is taken by the Registrar within the 30-day period, the registration will be cancelled and the name will be returned to "available" status.
(j) If a domain name owner does not satisfy the applicable Nexus Category because it has not submitted all the information required under Section 6(b) above, then the registration will be cancelled and released to the general pool of available names.
A Cautionary Note
Those knowledgeable about the law see a slippery slope in city TLD nexus requirements that can lead to domains as open as the .com TLD.
A strong nexus requirement for a .nyc domain name must be built upon documentation and contract. Documentation might include:
- property ownership
- business license
- being a tax payer
- voter registration
- NYS drivers license and a city address
A strong nexus advances a more focused and secure Net experience. With a focus on a limited and fixed geographic area, for example, a requirement for a property, residency, or business interest in the city, and working in close cooperation with the extant institutions, a .nyc TLD can approximate the expectation and trust found in such TLDs as .gov and .edu. This infrastructure view would have the advantage of making businesses using .nyc domains more trusted and transform .nyc into a strong economic development tool.
Strong Nexus - Impacts
Revenue - If one's primary short term goal is raising revenue through domain name sales, one must oppose strong nexus. But long term, steady growth in name sales and economic development will more than cover the short term loss.
Exclusion - The key disadvantage that arises with a strong nexus policy is that it might exclude those without suitable documentation. Public policy needs to assure that procedures are implemented to assure that all tax paying residents have suitable access. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicle's identification "license" might provide one approach. Or perhaps we'll see non-citizen voting rights.
Education Impacts - In the short term, the reduced revenue of a strong nexus might provide less funds for Internet education (Connecting.nyc Inc.'s mission) at a critical time when awareness, access, and training are vital.
The following questions provide some insight into the difficulty of answering the nexus question.The questions have been raised to Connecting.nyc Inc. over the years, with provisional answers indicated.
- Q. I live Ulster County near New York City's Ashoakan Reservoir. To keep the waters clean, the City has imposed / negotiated many restrictions on the use of our land. Frequently we curse the city, but if there's an opportunity to have access to a .nyc name, perhaps I'll change my tune? Do I qualify?
A. Possibly, especially if there's something in the land covenant with the city. But it might be a subject for negotiation with city officials. Arguments might be made that property owners within the city's watershed qualify for domain names.
- Q. I'm a student at Columbia University. Can I get a .nyc name?
A. Business plans and art projects might benefit from access to domain names and provide long term benefit to the city's residents. Perhaps students provide an instance where contract-nexus might be the controlling factor.
- Q. How about if I have a city mailbox, like they do in Singapore?
A. Perhaps, if it's an official U.S. Post office box and its acquisition requires a local nexus, as we're told is required in Singapore.
- Q. I'm an undocumented laborer, can I get a .nyc domain name?
A. Perhaps a contract and/or special "localizing" documents (such as the drivers identity card issued by the NYS Motor Vehicles Department) might be issued. But this needs to be decided by the TLD's oversight body.
Nexus requirements vary for different TLDs with Singapore for example, requiring at minimum access to a postal box. Examples of nexus requirements can be found at these locations:
- Singapore's .sg requirements - Domain Name Registration Agreement
- The .us nexus requirement - http://www.neustar.us/the-ustld-nexus-requirements/
- The .asia nexus - http://www.dotasia.org/draft/DotAsia-Charter-Eligibility--FINALDRAFT-v-1-5.pdf
- Catalonia's .cat nexus - http://www.domini.cat/media/upload/arxius/charter.pdf