Larry-Strickling-CITI-2013.pngColumbia University, New York City, June 20, 2013 - At the Future of Internet Governance conference at Columbia University’s Institute for Tele-Information, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling stated that applicants for city-TLDs should be prepared to demonstrate a willingness “to operate according to a true multistakeholder process” and that this should be a factor in evaluating their applications.

The statement was made in response to a question from Inc.’s Thomas Lowenhaupt, who, reflecting on his 16 year experience as a member of a multistakeholder governance entity in New York City, and on the U.S. government’s broad support for the governance model, asked Mr. Strickling if he thought the model should extend to city top level domains.

Administrator Strickling’s answer also spoke of the NTIA’s intent to require the entity managing the .us TLD to follow the model as it would “set a good example … that others might want to emulate.” Here is the Administrator’s statement in more detail:

I think certainly, as part of the application process … the demonstration of the willingness … to operate according to a true multistakeholder process should be an important factor. I do know that … we’ll be going out for the .us contract, and this issue has been squarely presented to us, in the sense that the current operator of that domain Neustar doesn’t operate as a true multistakeholder way, and that’s one of the requirements we’re going to put on this new round of people who want to come in and do this [We want to] … bring these ideas in and actually show that we can do them on a day to day basis. Beyond that I don’t have a suggestion today for how we expand that to the rest of the world and these other Top Level Domains but maybe we can set a good example … that others might want to emulate.

The full Q&A is available at the conference video. The image is courtesy of New York Internet Society.

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

Filed June 29th, 2013 under Internet Governance, City-TLDs, NTIA, Governance

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 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


Jackson Hts., New York, August 5, 2011 - Inc. last week filed comments on a Further Notice of Inquiry issued by the NTIA on a proposed contract with IANA (Internet Assigned Numbering Authority.)  IANA is responsible for the global coordination of the DNS Root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources. 

Our comments focused on the formation and demonstration of consensus associated with filing an application for a new TLD, a vital task as public engagement is central to the optimization of the TLD’s operation and  equitable distribution of the resource.

The proposed IANA contract would require that it assure that community “consensus” was behind applications for new TLDs. We supported the consensus requirement, and we offered as guidance the point-based guidelines the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) uses to assess local engagement in Choice Neighborhood applications. For example, the HUD guidelines state:

Resident and Community Engagement – 3 points. For this rating factor, you will be evaluated based on the extent to which you demonstrate that you have involved and will continue to involve neighborhood residents (including residents of the targeted public and/or assisted housing), local businesses, and community organizations in a sustained, informed and substantive way in the development and implementation of the Transformation Plan. Your application should demonstrate the impact of their involvement in shaping the vision for the neighborhood.

(1) Points will be awarded to the extent that your application:

      (a) Describes how residents of all ages as well as community-based organizations and local businesses are, and will continue to be, well informed and substantively engaged in the neighborhood transformation planning and implementation process. Explains key roles these interested parties have played in shaping the development of the Transformation Plan, and how you will ensure that local stakeholders’ concerns remain at the forefront of decision-making moving forward;

      (b) Includes a summary of representative resident and community recommendations and concerns from meetings and other forms of communication and an explanation of how this resident and community input has been addressed through the components of your proposed Transformation Plan;

      (c) Describes the capacity building, training, and other supports that have been and/or will be provided to residents and the community in order to increase informed, substantive, and sustained participation in the development and implementation of the Transformation Plan and ensure long-term accountability to the proposed vision; and

      (d) Describes your system for tracking and monitoring local stakeholder satisfaction and how this has aided and will aid you in assessing and adapting your ongoing Resident and Community Engagement strategy.

(2) You will receive up to 3 points if you demonstrate that you have a feasible, well- defined, and high-quality Resident and Community Engagement strategy, which addresses all of the above criteria.

(3) You will receive fewer points for failure to address all of the above criteria, failure to address the criteria in a sufficient manner, and for lack of specificity.

(4) You will receive zero points for failure to demonstrate that your Resident and Community Engagement strategy addresses any of the above criteria or your application does not address this factor to an extent that makes HUD’s rating of this factor possible.

As well, we pointed to other consensus assessment resources in our comments which are available here.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Filed August 6th, 2011 under Oversight, NTIA, Civics, Education, Governance

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

cowboys.JPGCartagena de Indias, Colombia, December 8, 2010 - In April 2001 a local governance unit in New York City passed an Internet Empowerment Resolution requesting the issuance of the .nyc TLD to enable the city to keep pace with the times. Noting the massive innovation enabled by the Internet, New York essentially said “Why not us?”

9 years later no one questions the right of cities to have TLDs but applications for city TLDs are caught in a logjam caused by the ICANN’s one-application-fits-all approach to issuing new TLDs. While laudable, the process continues to plod along, grappling with one barrier after another.

Cities offer the optimum test of the application process:

  • For those concerned about intellectual property, city TLDs reduce the likelihood of trademark confusion. The .cat experience attests to this. Additionally, cities are responsible players with ready recourse through nation-state structures.
  • The thoughtful development of city TLDs using a standardized Internet of Things nomenclature, will provide an infrastructure for innovation in fields from global rescue operations to locating the nearest movie theater.
  • City TLDs will provide a test for those concerned about the human and technical readiness of the ICANN and the route. 
  • There are 476 cities with million + populations. If the ICANN’s global outreach project initially focuses on reaching these entities, offering financial and technical assistance to several of the less-able, a manageable batch of applications will work their way through the process. 
  • For those concerned about the encroachment of government into the realm of business, qualification for city-TLD processing should be tied to agreement to the standards presented in Public Interest City-TLD Definition.

Once this city batch has worked its way through the human and technical processes, and as the issues of concern on another TLD category are worked out, that next group will proceed using Application Process B.  (Photo courtesy Library of Congress.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Pages

Filed December 8th, 2010 under Inspiration, City-TLDs, NTIA, ICANN

NTIA-logo.0.JPGCartagena, Columbia, December 6, 2010 - Inc. today filed comments with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration in response to its “Global Free Flow of Information on the Internet - [Docket No. 100921457–0457–01] RIN 0660–XA20]” inquiry. The deadline for filing was December 6, a time when Thomas Lowenhaupt, the comments’ drafter, was attending an ICANN meeting in Cartagena, hence the exotic location for the filing of this post.

The comments, “The Impacts of the City-TLD Lacuna on Commerce, Innovation, and Access” addressed the lacuna in the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) - NO CITY NAMES - and its impacts and lost opportunities to cities.

The comments urged NTIA to support thoughtful research on the role and potential of city-TLDs, something never undertaken by the NTIA or ICANN. “The release of the DNS without city-TLDs has diminished the utility and operational efficiency of cities in a multitude of ways, resulting in an immense lost opportunity cost.” They also noted that “the city-TLD lacuna skewed the Internet’s development toward a global medium to the detriment of cities.”

The comments urged NTIA to peek “outside the silo of telecom policy and toward urban affairs” and the role the Net might play in housing, education, health, and security. And how the Net might be fashioned to help cities “integrate planning and service delivery in these various areas.” The comments predicted that “Huge economic savings and social benefit will arrive with the thoughtful introduction of city-TLDs if  innovation is enabled by thorough planning.”  See the comments here.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

Filed December 6th, 2010 under City-TLDs, Domain Names, NTIA, Civics


Vilnius, Lithuania, September 17, 2010 - At the 5th Internet Governance Forum in Vilnius, Lithuania, leaders from government, civil society, and business gathered to discuss the design, development, and operation of city-TLDs. Participants at the City-TLD Governance and Best Practices workshop made the following recommendations:

  • City-TLD proponents should prepare a preliminary definition of public interest TLDs, using resources such as the Paris Understanding.
  • An organization of proponents of public interest city-TLDs be formed.
  • Literature should be prepared to inform mayors of the world of the utility of city-TLDs, and that it be distributed through their best practices organizations.
  • Via petition and other mechanisms, the thoughtful and rapid approval of city-TLDs should be presented to the ICANN.
  • Such petition to the ICANN should note that the operation of city government, the quality of city life, and the sustainability of cities will be improved by the thoughtful issuance and development of city-TLDs.
  • Such petition should also note the unsuitability of the proposed filing fees, technology requirements, and registry/registrar separation for city-TLDs proposed in the Draft Application Guidebook, especially for less developed areas.
  • The petition should note that the acceptance of city-TLDs as a distinct category of TLDs, governed under the existing laws of nation-states; unencumbered by traditional concerns about trademark stress; and governed by responsible entities will free the ICANN to focus on more problematic TLD categories.
  • That nation-states be contacted through the members of the ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and other channels and requested to assemble a list of cities with an existing interest in TLDs.
  • That a list of cities proposing public interest TLDs be submitted to ICANN.
  • That a dedicated unit within ICANN be created to process public interest city-TLD applications.
  • That cities on such a list be processed and approved in an expedited manner.
  • That trademark issues be closely considered. 
  • That the city-TLD advocacy organization create city-to-city processes and communication channels to share best practices.

See City-TLD Governance and Best Practices - Report for the full workshop details and the follow-up page for responses under consideration. (Photo courtesy of Patti Shubitz.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page

UN-Under-Secretary-General-Sha.JPG New York, March 30, 2010 - Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Mr. Sha Zukang presided at a briefing on the future of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at United Nations Headquarters in New York today.

Mr. Sha noted his early interest in Internet Governance, observing that he was the first to raise the issue of Internet Governance at the U.N. By way of background, and perhaps responding to some suspicion arising from his former position as China’s Ambassador to the U.N., Mr. Sha emphasized that today he speaks as a U.N. employee.

After these brief comments Mr. Sha read a six page statement about the process that might lead to the IGF’s continuation, interspersed with personal observations. In my role as reporter, I’ve transcribed portions of Mr. Sha’s report, beginning on page 3, after the IGF history notation, under the heading “How The Review Process Will Unfold.”

After his prepared statement, Mr. Sha took comments from Yemen, EU, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Canada, U.S., U.K., France, Norway, ICC and then offered some concluding statements. See the full meeting report here.

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page.

Filed March 31st, 2010 under NTIA, Governance, Internet Governance Forum

NTIA-logo.JPGJackson Hts., NY, June 10, 2009 - Earlier this week Inc. filed comments with the NTIA on the role of cities within the ICANN governance structure. We recommended opening two governance channels to facilitate cities’ participation in ICANN processes:

  • Technical Participation - Through membership on the extant Registry Constituency enabling city registry operators to participate in the technical management of the DNS.
  • Representative Participation - Through access to a new channel enabling “representation of cities within the ICANN’s executive decision level.”

See our On the Participation of Cities in the ICANN Processes wiki page for our NTIA comment and related information.

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

Filed June 9th, 2009 under City-TLDs, NTIA, Education, Governance

department-of-commerce.jpgThe NTIA (the unit within the U.S. Department of Commerce that oversees the ICANN’s operation) issued a Notice of Inquiry concerning the readiness of ICANN for greater independence. Inc. responded on February 15, 2008.

We saw much progress by ICANN but thought more was required before it was granted greater independence, probably as an international organization. Relating to the .nyc TLD, we made two specific suggestions:

  • TLD Acquisition & Operation Costs – With all indications from GNSO and the ICANN that demonstrated community support will be a criterion for evaluating new TLD applications, we have dedicated the preponderance of our resources to soliciting community needs and support. Previous TLD acquisition opportunities have required costly and time consuming application fees and processes. We proposed the ICANN shortcut the process and costs associated with acquiring the .nyc TLD (and other city-TLDs). With urban area now home to more than half of the world’s population, the lacuna in the original DNS (i.e., no city-TLDs) screams for repair . We seek a nominal application fee for what we see as our repair operation. Also, we proposed that for the initial 5 years of operation, the per-name new and renewal fees to ICANN should be eliminated.
  • Priority on Application Processing – Creating a process for new TLDs has taken over a decade and indications are that many applications will be forthcoming when the application window opens. We expressed our concern that a plethora of product applications for new TLDs by Fortune 1000 firms might inundate the ICANN’s small staff and reduce the likelihood of city-TLDs being issued on a timely basis. We recommended that the ICANN make provision for the priority handling of applications for city-TLD applications, enabling a rapid application of Internet’s TLD medicine to long simmering city needs.

More broadly, we reviewed the “Broadening the Domain Name Space: Adding TLDs for Cities and Regions” panel at the U.N. sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio De Janeiro last November, and panelist Sebastian Bacholet’s preview of the internationalization study initiated by developers of the .nyc, .berlin, and .paris TLDs at the ICANN Los Angeles meeting. We indicated that this first research effort presages many similar opportunities and a role for coordination and sharing among cities. As well, it points to the need for a more formal position for cities in ICANN’s oversight processes. We noted that urban areas are now home to more than 50% of the world’s population and consume 75% of its resources and that the initiation of city-TLDs provides an opportunity to address the sustainability issue.

See the full comments. (Commons photo courtery of robertcz.)

Filed February 17th, 2008 under Oversight, NTIA, ICANN, Governance