barcoded-NYC.0.JPGJackson Hts., New York, November 16, 2012 - On April 19, 2001 Queens Community Board 3, a local planning agency of the City of New York, passed an Internet Empowerment Resolution calling for the acquisition and development of the .nyc TLD as a public interest resource (it’s like .com, .org, .edu and .gov but just for New York City).

Last night, 11 years later, on the eve of that resolution’s fruition, and with 38 other global cities following the city’s lead - .paris, .london, .tokyo, .barcelona, etc., the board passed another resolution supportive of the original saying in essence: “Hey, we started this thing. Don’t forget us.”

The new resolution calls for City Hall to activate and fund a promised .nyc Community Advisory Board and assure that good domain names - those that are short, descriptive and memorable - are provided to the “city’s neighborhoods, community organizations, not-for-profit institutions, and local small businesses.” It also called for the city to coordinate the development of the.nyc TLD with the 38 other global cities, and it requested that a process be developed for recycling domain names that would assure their availability for future generations. The resolution:


A Resolution in Support of the .nyc Top Level Domain

- by Queens Community Board 3, the City of New York, November 15, 2012 -

Whereas, on April 19, 2001 Queens Community Board 3 passed an Internet Empowerment Resolution calling for the acquisition and development of the .nyc Top Level Domain (TLD) as a public interest resource, and

Whereas, the City of New York submitted an application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the .nyc TLD on June 12, 2012, and

Whereas, the City of New York plans to create a Community Advisory Board to “encourage meaningful input into the development of the .nyc strategy” and

Whereas, 38 other cities have followed New York City’s initiative and applied for their TLDs,

Queens Community Board 3 hereby endorses the following resolution:

We congratulate Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council for filing an application for the .nyc TLD.

To contribute to its success, Community Board 3 recommends:

  • that the .nyc TLD’s Community Advisory Board take a careful view of this most important resource, and that it be provided with adequate resources to assure its effective operation.
  • that Community Boards, civic organizations, not-for-profit entities, and local small businesses be represented on the Community Advisory Board.
  • that domain names that support civic life should be thoughtfully reserved for use by the city’s neighborhoods, community organizations, not-for-profit institutions, and local small businesses.
  • that civic not-for-profit organizations, and small businesses be provided with adequate notification of domain name selection periods, and the opportunity to select a good domain name.
  • that the city carefully coordinate the development of its Top Level Domain with the other cities that have applied for their TLDs, seeking opportunities for standardization and the sharing of good TLD governance practices.
  • that a plan be formulated to assure that the .nyc TLD is a sustainable resource: that domain names are recycled so they are available to New Yorkers today and tomorrow.

rod-bergstoms-scream.jpgUPDATE: See details on the city’s application for the .nyc TLD as submitted to ICANN and its contract with vendor NeuStar here.

Jackson Hts., New York, March 23, 2012 - Below are the rough notes from my visit to DoITT’s office yesterday, March 22, 2012. Apologies for the lack of detail, but I was not provided with a copy of the document and was forbidden by city officials from using any recording devices, e.g., taking a picture of the pages with my cell phone. See details on this here.

The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) held a “public hearing” on the proposed contract today. See my written statement here.

[Note: The city’s “transparency period” ended on March 23 and City Hall’s door has slammed shut without any meaningful public engagement on the TLD development process. And the city’s application for the .nyc TLD will be submitted on April 12 without having received any meaningful public review. This sad situation is reflected in an imagined response of ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom upon learning of the lack of public review.]

Editors Note: This report was originally made by CnI’s director, Thomas Lowenhaupt, based on  a brief viewing of city documents. With the arrival of a copy of some of the documents, we’ve provided this link to a more complete report on the .nyc TLD documents.

(Image of  ICANN’s CEO Rod Beckstrom reacting to practices that enabled cities to enter the complex realm of the TLD sans guidance.)

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

City-Hall.JPG Jackson Hts., New York, March 15, 2012 - With city government having decided to submit an application for the .nyc TLD without any prior public consultation - either by the administration or the city council - the below looks at 2 of the 50 questions it will be answering in that application, and raises some questions. (See the New TLD Guidebook for all 50 questions.) 

A city official has stated,

“Once the City is awarded [.nyc], we’ll fully develop all applicable policies concerning name acquisition on the TLD. We plan to gather feedback from stakeholders across the city as part of that process.”

So here we offer a helping hand, examining two of the questions it must answer [ with our questions and thoughts in brackets ]. As you’ll see, the answers to ICANN’s questions will frame our city’s digital existence. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that effective outreach is ultimately conducted and that answers submitted in April do not bind the city to a digital doghouse.

 #18. Mission/Purpose

18. (a) Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD [ This is the pivotal question, is it: To improve the quality of life for residents? To create a robust business climate? To facilitate improved delivery of government services? To create a more programmer-friendly city? To facilitate civic communication? To enable the creation of a self governing culture using the latest digital tools? To foster local Net businesses and keep Internet revenue here? To raise money by selling domain names? … ]

(b) How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants [ people who acquire a .nyc domain name ], Internet users [ everyone and anyone using the Internet ], and others [ non-Internet users, tourists, pedestrians, bikers, etc. ]? Answers should address the following points:

i. What is the goal of your proposed gTLD in terms of areas of specialty, service levels, or reputation? [ Answers here depend on the response to #18. (a) - Mission/Purpose. But one answer might be “To create a trusted digital space where the people of the world feel they can safely conduct business.” ]

ii. What do you anticipate your proposed gTLD will add to the current space, in terms of competition, differentiation, or innovation? [ Will it put us on a par or exceed the offerings of other global cities? Are there privacy or security offerings that will make .nyc a trusted TLD, where businesses will move to from a wild and insecure .com world? ]

iii. What goals does your proposed gTLD have in terms of user experience? [ For example, are help and emergency buttons going to be provided and required - 311 and 911? Will it embrace the Internet of Things, and create a pedestrian-friendly city? Will it have public spaces such as the parks, streets, and sidewalks in the traditional city? ]

iv. Provide a complete description of the applicant’s intended registration policies in support of the goals listed above. [ How is this question answered if public outreach is to be done after submitting the application? ]

v. Will your proposed gTLD impose any measures for protecting the privacy or confidential information of registrants or users? If so, please describe any such  measures. [ Are there measures to facilitate anonymous but responsible speech? And what about security? ]

vi. Describe whether and in what ways outreach and communications will help to achieve your projected benefits. [ We’d hope to see an answer pointing to our city’s democratic ideals and an intent to fully explore the potentials of a city-TLD, educate the public as to the options, and use consensus tools to set a policy and path. ]

(c) What operating rules will you adopt to eliminate or minimize social costs (e.g., time or financial resource costs, as well as various types of consumer vulnerabilities)? [ Will the city’s Consumer Affairs Department work to protect the registrants of .nyc domain names? ] What other steps will you take to minimize negative consequences/costs imposed upon consumers?  [ Will the city encourage the development of free or inexpensive 3rd level domain names for civic organizations, schools, churches, local businesses? ] Answers should address the following points:

i. How will multiple applications for a particular domain name be resolved, for example, by auction or on a first-come/ firstserve basis? [ So party #1 wants news.nyc for a collaborative news service to which New Yorkers contribute on a peer-rated basis. And party #2 wants news.nyc as an outlet for Associated Press and New Corporation stories. What is the process for deciding? ]  Or [ Party #1 wants Corona.nyc to build a collaborative publishing and decision making hub serving the 55,000 residents of the Corona neighborhood. And party #2 wants Corona.nyc to help it sell beer. What is the process for deciding? ]

ii. Explain any cost benefits for registrants you intend to implement (e.g., advantageous pricing, introductory discounts, bulk registration discounts).[ Do civic organizations, neighborhoods, schools, and churches pay the same rate as multinational corporations? Will there be free third level civic domain names, e.g., fix-that-light.civic.nyc? What about subsidized domain names that facilitate electoral speech? ]

iii. Note that the Registry Agreement requires that registrars [ registrars are the retailers of domain names, for example, GoDaddy.com ] be offered the option to obtain initial domain name registrations for periods of one to ten years at the discretion of the registrar, but no greater than ten years. Additionally, the Registry Agreement requires advance written notice of price increases. Do you intend to make contractual commitments to registrants regarding the magnitude of price escalation? [ So can GoDaddy.com sell a name for a discounted $9.99 and raise the price to $99.99 in year 2? ] If so, please describe your plans.

#20.

20. (a) Provide the name and full description of the community that the applicant is committing to serve. … The name of the community does not have to be formally adopted for the application to be designated as community-based. [ Does .nyc serve just the five boroughs or is it a force for regionalization? See our Regional Consolidation and Nexus pages on this.]

Descriptions should include: • How the community is delineated from Internet users generally. [ Is the .nyc TLD a rallying point for the New York City community, as a civic entity focused on the creation of a more livable city? ] Such descriptions may include, but are not limited to, the following: membership, registration, or licensing processes, operation in a particular industry, use of a language. • How the community is structured and organized. For a community consisting of an alliance of groups, details about the constituent parts are required. • When the community was established, including the date(s) of formal organization, if any, as well as a description of community activities to date. • The current estimated size of the community, both as to membership and geographic extent.

(b) Explain the applicant’s relationship to the community identified in #20(a) [ This a very revealing question as it shows that ICANN thinks there’s little difference between .paris, .newyork, and .banjo or .car ] .

Explanations should clearly state: • Relations to any community organizations. • Relations to the community and its constituent parts/groups. • Accountability mechanisms of the applicant to the community.

(c) Provide a description of the community-based purpose of the applied-for gTLD.  [ Dear ICANN, we’ve not spoken to the community yet. We’ll get back to you on this. Sincerely, The City of New York. ]

Descriptions should include: • Intended registrants in the TLD. [ Residents, small businesses, anybody with the cash? ] • Intended end-users of the TLD. • Related activities the applicant has carried out or intends to carry out in service of this purpose. [ With the “intends” there the city can provide an extended answer to this question, I suppose. ] • Explanation of how the purpose is of a lasting nature. [ Will the city “recycle” names and make good names available for generations to come? See our page on a sustainable TLD for some insight on this one. ]

(d) Explain the relationship between the applied for gTLD string and the community identified in #20(a). [ If it’s .nyc, will there be a New York State sponsored TLD servicing the likes of NiagraFalls.newyork? Casinos.newyork? ]

Explanations should clearly state: • relationship to the established name, if any, of the community. • relationship to the identification of community members. • any connotations the string may have beyond the community.

(e) Provide a complete description of the applicant’s intended registration policies in support of the community-based purpose of the applied-for gTLD. Policies and enforcement mechanisms are expected to constitute a coherent set. [ Based on the Mission/Purpose ]

Descriptions should include proposed policies, if any, on the following: • Eligibility: who is eligible to register a second-level name in the gTLD, and how will eligibility be determined. [ See our Nexus page for background. ] • Name selection: what types of second-level names may be registered in the gTLD. • Content/Use: what restrictions, if any, the registry operator will impose on how a registrant may use its registered name. [ Can a .nyc domain name serve as the basis of a non-New York business? If a business, must it follow New York’s Consumer laws? ] • Enforcement: what investigation practices and mechanisms exist to enforce the policies above, what resources are allocated for enforcement, and what appeal mechanisms are available to registrants. [ Will the city’s existing agencies be tied into the operation of the .nyc TLD? ]

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

March-7-2012-City-Hall-Bill-signing-open-data.jpg

Jackson Hts., New York, March 9, 2012 - I was at City Hall on Wednesday for Mayor Bloomberg’s signing of the Open Data Law. Having testified to the city council on a draft of the measure in 2010, I affirmed my support for the legislation. After concluding my remarks I passed on a copy of our award winning The Flushing Community poster to the mayor, saying I hoped it would help the city prepare for its next digital task - planning for the arrival of the .nyc TLD.

After the signing, a prominent expert and practitioner of all things digital, Beth Noveck, a professor at New York Law School and former Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration, said “You’re next.” and I was doubly cheered.

But then a conversation with Carole Post, commissioner of the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DoITT), darkened my day. With Connecting.nyc Inc. the first and primary advocate for the TLD’s acquisition, I’d hoped that our December 22 recommendation, that New York wait for ICANN’s second filing round, had provided the city with a basis and latitude for postponing the filing. (That statement’s essence said “no research, no outreach, no real deadline - let’s wait”.) But the Commissioner stated that they were on a path to submit an application to ICANN by the April 12 deadline.

I then asked the commissioner about the missing research and public engagement and she said “We’ll do that afterward.” I tried again, reiterating that there’s no rush, our TLD has been, in essence (see comment below), reserved for when we’re ready, and that ICANN has announced that it’s preparing to reopen the filing window. “We’re on a path to file by April.” she again stated. I tried a third time, stating that the filing required serious commitments on the part of the city, but she was sticking to her path.

I left city hall disappointed but thinking, “Afterward might not be that bad, at least they’re going to do it.” But I returned home to think about the situation, ponder her statements, and to look over the level of commitment required in the New TLD Guidebook. Beginning on page 99 it spells out 50 questions, many concluding with “A complete answer is expected to be no more than 10 pages.” And as one might imagine, there are many potential devils in the details that must be spelled out: Who qualifies to apply for a domain name, who gets what name, how is it decided, for how much, for how long, are there restrictions on name use, how are the needs of local businesses addressed, what about civic organizations, neighborhoods, schools, churches, how are our cultural resources preserved, what is the sustainability plan…

I was left wondering how they were completing the application without public outreach or expert assistance. Maybe they were going to fill it in after filing as the Commissioner indicated? But the Guidebook seemed clear that changes were the exception not the rule, and that ICANN would base its decision on the April submission.

Today I decided to prod DoITT and asked “What about the neighborhood names - JacksonHeights.nyc, Harlem.nyc, ParkSlope.nyc, etc. - what are the plans for their allocation.” I await an answer. 

So here I am, one month shy of an 11 year effort to bring this important resource to the city, and I find myself arguing against doing so. A sad situation indeed. (Commons Photo of Thomas Lowenhaupt at City Hall - courtesy of CnI Library.) 

Tom Lowenhaupt

Learn more about The Campaign for .nyc on our wiki pages.

City-Hall.JPG

Jackson Hts., New York, December 22, 2011 - With 21 days remaining before the ICANN’s filing window opens for new TLDs, authoritative city government sources report the following: the new deputy mayor with responsibility for the TLD’s oversight (Robert K. Steel) is being briefed about the opportunity; “everyone in the loop” is being consulted; the city has not decided what to do with the three proposals it received in December 2009 (we presume these are by Verisign, CORE, and a now merged Minds & Machines and NuStar application); the lead agency has yet to be determined; and the role of the public in the decision making process is unclear.

With mere days remaining for the application’s submission, we can’t fathom completing the comprehensive, ground-setting TLD design, planning, and development process, including public education and engagement, which we’ve advocated. With faith that the Bloomberg Administration can come up with a suitable zeitgeist vision waning, earlier this year we petitioned the city council to, minimally, set aside the neighborhood names as local civic and economic development resources.

But without a long-term vision and a strong commitment to using the TLD as digital infrastructure, we fear that our city’s TLD, and the neighborhood names, will be lost among the hundreds of helter-skelter TLDs ICANN is expected to authorize over the next few years. In the new TLD environment, a standard model city-TLD might be suitable for selling tourist tchotchkes, but without adequate planning, it will not serve as the infrastructure we need to enhance our digital future. 

Having worked and waited over 10 years for this opportunity to arise, we find ourselves compelled and saddened to make the following recommendation: Let’s begin now to undertake a comprehensive review of all that a TLD can do for our city. Let’s observe cities receiving TLDs in this first round and learn from their experience. And let’s prepare for ICANN’s next filing opportunity for city-TLDs, expected in perhaps three years - barely enough time to prepare a thoughtful and comprehensive plan.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

isoc-ny-logo.jpg New York, December 6, 2011 - How does a city use a Top Level Domain? That question remains largely unanswered as the April 12 deadline for filing applications for new Top Level Domains, or TLDs, approaches. While ICANN, the global entity with responsibility for issuing TLDs, has initiated a new TLD program, it has not consulted with cities or provided any guidelines on their use. Beyond the (not inconsiderable) contributions of Connecting.nyc Inc., no academic study, funded research, or formal explorations of any sort on the effective and efficient use of city-TLDs have been undertaken.

New York’s Internet Society has stepped forward to help fill the expertise and planning gap by creating the Occupy NY wiki. Working in much the same manner as the popular Wikipedia, the Occupy Wiki presents a venue where the public can present their ideas, ask questions, communicate, and explore how this new digital infrastructure, might help address the multitude of social, political, and economic challenges that face our city on a daily basis. How it can help our small businesses and create a more livable city.

In creating the Occupy NY Wiki, New York’s Internet Society, (ISOC-NY), a chapter of the global Internet Society, has initiated an important step in the traditional bottom-up decision-making process upon which the Internet was built. In offering this resource, ISOC-NY hopes the contributions of New York’s residents and organizations will assist with the submission of an application to the ICANN for a city-TLD in early 2012.

We wonder though how the city can possibly discern the effective use of a TLD in the few days remaining before ICANN’s filing deadline. Having advocated for .nyc’s acquisition for over a decade, some might be shocked when we say: We think it prudent that New York’s Internet community begin now preparing for the next filing opportunity, with ISOC-NY’s Occupy Wiki an appropriate first step. Our broader plans for research and public engagement indicate further steps.

Properly preparing for a city-TLD’s arrival is equivalent to preparing a street grid, zoning plan, or subway line - something that takes years, not days. Our friend Constantine Roussos has invested 5 years and millions of dollars planning the .music TLD, one far less complex and with far less impact than a TLD for the world’s premier city.

But we applaud this initiative and responsible action by ISOC-NY on behalf of its home city. We encourage ISOC-NY to continue to advocate for research into the effective use of this critical Internet resource. Long term, city-TLDs offer a significant business opportunity for the city. With the United Nations in our back yard, as we learn then transfer our experiences globally, they promise to become an important new source of employment, providing good jobs for ISOC members and residents with expertise in a variety of fields.

Finally, we encourage our wiki team to visit the Occupy NY Wiki and do elves-work helping new users. (The isoc-ny logo is courtesy of the Internet Society-NY.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

November 13, 2011 - With the world more topsy-turvy than usual, one must wonder about the proper oversight and standards that should guide a  city-TLD. Recently we were struck by the Occupy Wall Street movement and the growing recognition of the role the commons play in our everyday lives. Today we heard this ballad by a young Hawaiian, Mankana - http://bit.ly/we-are-the-many - and wondered about the world we’re in and the one in which our children and theirs will live.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Hangout-Mike-Palage-and-5-others.JPGThe Net, September 9, 2011 -  We convened our usual 10-11 AM Thursday meeting using Google+’s new Hangout feature yesterday. The question of the day was: “Whose TLD Is It: the City of New York, the State of New York, or the “Internet Community”? The answer is quite complicated if you consider that there are several options for New York’s TLD: .newyork, .newyorkcity, or the presumed .nyc, with the city, state, and “Internet Community” having more or less rights or power to claim each.

The meeting was convened and moderated by Connecting.nyc Inc.’s Thomas Lowenhaupt. Others attending were Seth Johnson, a New York based information quality specialist and policy advocate, Joly MacFie, V.P. Internet Society-NY, the day’s expert guest, Michael Palage, attorney and former member of the ICANN’s board of directors, and Robert Pollard, founder of Information Habitat: Where Information Lives, a United Nations NGO. 

The complexity of the situation was hinted at by the number of entities with a role in defining New York’s TLD usage and suitability: the City of New York, the State of New York, ICANN, IANA, and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA.

At meeting’s end Mike Palage noted that at the conclusion of the June 2010 ICANN meeting that approved the new TLD process, the rising comment was that its passage represented “the end of the beginning.” Indeed.

Joly MacFie captured and published a video of the event, and there’s a wiki page presenting the salient points. (Commons photo courtesy of Patti Shubitz.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Filed September 9th, 2011 under City Council, Neighborhoods, City-TLDs, NTIA, .berlin, .paris, ICANN

NTIA-logo.0.JPGJackson Heights, New York, June 15, 2011 - The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) yesterday published a Further Notice of Inquiry (FNOI) concerning the process ICANN must follow in issuing new TLDs. The relevant paragraph for the .nyc TLD reads: 

Responsibility and Respect for Stakeholders — The Contractor shall, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders for this function, develop a process for documenting the source of the policies and procedures and how it has applied the relevant policies and procedures, such as RFC 1591, to process requests associated with TLDs. In addition, the Contractor shall act in accordance with the relevant national laws of the jurisdiction which the TLD registry serves. For delegation requests for new generic TLDS (gTLDs), the Contractor shall include documentation to demonstrate how the proposed string has received consensus support from relevant stakeholders [highlights ours] and is supported by the global public interest.

The NTIA is accepting comments on the FNOI until July 29, with the full FNOI and the process and address for submitting comments available here.

Our initial thoughts are that it would be good to further define “relevant stakeholders.” And we will be submitting comments to NTIA by July 29 to add our support for the direction they are headed and to suggest some clarity.

But let’s presume for the moment that the final Statement of Work arising from this NTIA review goes through pretty mush as is. Several questions arise.

Who are the “relevant stakeholders” for the .nyc TLD? Internet users? Small businesses using websites? Small businesses planning to use websites? Residents? Residents using the Internet? Registered voters? Tourists? Former residents? Those who love and wish they lived in New York? The city’s big businesses? Businesses selling products in NYC and with a permanent presence? Big businesses selling products in NYC but without a presence? Wall Street? Civic groups? Community Boards? The city of New York? The city council? The Comptroller? The Public Advocate? The office of the mayor? The governor? The state legislature? The city university? Our private universities? Religious institutions? Charities? The homeless? School children? Future generations? And what of the region: do those living a stone’s throw across the Hudson and working in the city have a say? What about those living across the Hudson or in our reservoir supply region, not working in the city, but strongly influenced by city policies, should they have a say? What about the prospective contractors who will operate the computers that maintain the database of .nyc names, and the prospective retailers of these names? Our experience from attending hundreds or meetings and discussing .nyc with thousands of people over the past 10 years is that all of these have an interest in the development of the .nyc TLD and therefore have a stake in its development and continuation.

This raises another question: Should each group have equal weight in determining the consensus policy? Obviously resident views should have more weight than tourist or wannabe views, but coming up with a fair weighting process will be challenging. The experience of the commons community could be of great assistance here. And the multi-stakeholder model that governs the ICANN and the IGF provide other relevant experience.

Next: Who should determine the relevant .nyc TLD stakeholders and coordinate a review and consensus development? Our vote is the Internet Society, in consultation with the mayor and city council. Yesterday’s INET sponsored by the Internet Society and ISOC-NY attracted the top Federal and City government IT policy leaders, a father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, and 250 others. It was masterfully organized, lived streamed globally, and demonstrated that ISOC knows the issues and has the wherewithal to undertake such a massive review. (Disclosure: our founder is a member of the ISOC-NY’s board of directors.)

Finally, how long will this review take and how is this convening of stakeholders to be financed? Deciding on the review organization(s) and structure, identifying members, securing a budget, preliminary research, on and off line public hearings, report preparation and distribution requires about two years. But no one’s going to snatch .nyc from the New York Community, so the key is to get this right. It’s a matter of careful preparation so that when the application for .nyc reaches ICANN, it details that a thoughtful evaluation process took place, leading to a consensus by all stakeholders. The Internet Society should provide a start up budget for the local chapter. ICANN should view this as model making for city-TLDs, make a financial contribution and assign staff to coordinate with its ongoing activities. The city should make a contribution, as should a foundation with an interest in New York City, perhaps the Sloan or Rockefeller Foundations. Each of the other organized stakeholder groups should kick in something, and a Kickstart should be initiated to facilitate public participation and civic awareness.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

digital-roadmap.jpgJackson Heights, New York, May 31, 2011 - Let me begin by saying that a digital road map is welcome. And, considering the 90 day deadline and staffing support, this Road Map’s author, Rachel Sterne, did an excellent job surveying the communication channels used and available to the city. (See Road Map.)

About the .nyc TLD, the Road Map says:

The City of New York is currently pursuing the introduction of the .nyc top-level domain, a global milestone that will enable innovation and digital services for residents, and economic advantages for businesses. New York City could be one of the world’s first cities to operate its own top-level domain, presenting enormous opportunities. The .nyc domain will be administered by a private vendor (emphasis ours) to be selected by doitt. The City is currently reviewing vendor candidates that responded to the City’s initial Request for Proposals (rfp), (emphasis ours) and plans to submit its application for the .nyc top-level domain when the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (icann) opens the application process. icann’s timeline is expected to be finalized after its official June 21, 2011 meeting, and the City of New York plans to apply when the application period opens. Only the vendor selected by New York City government will have the legal right to administer the .nyc domain. (See Report).

Where the Road Map says .nyc will be “administered by a private vendor” we have problems; but then it refers to “the City’s initial Request for Proposals which left us with some hope, as explained below.

The .nyc domain will be administered by a private vendor”

I can best explain the problem with this statement by relating a chat I had with a fellow city TLD advocate (let’s call him Joe) shortly after the December 2010 ICANN meeting in Cartagena, Colombia. I spotted him dining in an ornate Cuban restaurant and stopped to say hello. Joe spoke a simple sentence that exemplified the broad divide between the traditional DNS industry, which holds great sway at ICANN, and the vision we hold of .nyc as a public interest resource. Our chat focused on the meeting’s progress toward issuing the long sought Application Guidebook that would set the path for cities to apply for their TLDs, and after a bit Joe concluded with:

  • “I can’t wait until they issue the Guidebook so we can start selling names.”

Our answer to the What’s to look forward to when city TLDs arrive question is an ocean apart:

  • “When the .nyc TLD arrives we can more effectively use the Net to address the needs of our city.”

So when the Road Map says that “The .nyc domain will be administered by a private vendor,” without indicating the public interest or public input into the TLD’s design, development, and operation, we see the city taking Joe’s “name sales” approach and chucking the public interest. And with the contractor selection process a secret one, we’ve little reason for optimism about the outcome.

Our contacts with prospective contractors confirmed that they hold the standard “more-names-is-better” industry perspective. With our long involvement and advocacy for a public interest TLDs, we were contacted by a few of the prospective “private vendors” about being a community partner to their .nyc proposals. But when we indicated our commitment to the Internet Empowerment Resolution and our determination to see the public interest served, they lost interest, with one saying “We don’t see a community application being compatible with our sales plan.” 

In short, from what we’ve been able to paste together from talks with city officials and likely vendors, those under consideration are firms such as NeuStar and Verisign that have their expertise and make their money by selling domain names, not building cities.

We advocate for the creation of a policy body that oversees the TLD’s sustainable operation and development as a public interest resource. This policy entity should foster a contract with a “private vendor” to oversee the plan’s technical requirements - not to maximize name sales. (Name sales will be a part of the plan, not its driving force.)

“the city’s initial Request for Proposals”

But we were pleased to see the Road Map refer to an “initial Request for Proposal” as we’ve advocated for a more expansive view of the planning process to include what we’ve nicknamed the CARPA Study, to be followed by ULURP-like public hearings. And in February, in a conversation with the Road Map’s author Rachel Sterne, she indicated she “absolutely hope(s) to engage the public as much as we can” in the review process - see here. We’ve got our fingers crossed.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

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