• Governance Ecology - Local Oversight

last modified December 8, 2013 by tomlowenhaupt

­Note: This page requires updating as a consequence of the formation of the .NYC Advisory Board.

Here we explore the governance ecology for the .nyc TLD as it relates to city residents, business, civic, cultural, and social organizations, and city government.  

Attitudes Toward Governance


(Commons graphic courtesy of arimoore.)

Public Interest City TLD Benefits

Connecting.nyc Inc. is setting the groundwork for acquiring and operating the .nyc TLD, following a decade long effort by CnI’s founders and supporters to prepare for the eventuality.

Preparation for the TLD award and development efforts process included the Toward Global City TLDs in the Public Interest - A White Paper, which identified advantages that will arrive with the development of a public interest city-TLD:

  • Good Domain Names - If issued equitably and at affordable rates, a public interest TLD will facilitate the fundamental benefit that derives from a new TLD, that is, the long term availability of good names - those that are short, descriptive, and memorable.
  • Equitable Distribution of Domain Names – A public interest TLD can establish allocation policies that avoid pitfalls such as hoarding and typo-squatting. Policy decisions can be made on price and nexus requirements (a legal term indicating a required city connection such as a residency or operating a business), and can reserve domain names for unbiased public interest directories, government, civic, and issue usage.
  • Affordable Domain Names – By eliminating the profit requirement, public interest TLDs can keep prices low and set rates that maximize community benefit. Affordable names can be provided for the young entering the business world, for the community and civic worlds, for recent immigrants, small businesses, and for use in the public realm. Where appropriate and feasible, a TLD operated in the public interest can provide free names to individuals, organizations, start-ups, etc.
  • Name Set-Asides - With an improved community a key part of its mission, a public interest TLD can set aside second level names for neighborhoods or civic benefit activities and issues, e.g., “elections.nyc” or “sante.paris” Also, it can experiment with allocation plans that facilitate shared name usage for civic, community, and issues. e.g., developing a reusable public access name bank that facilitates a time based allocation of names like save-the-tree.nyc.
  • The New Proximity – While the Internet excels by connecting on a global scale, a public interest city-TLD can establish discussion, issue, geographic, and opportunity name spaces where residents can locate one another. Combining the Internet’s global reach and local face-to-face contacts will optimize the exchange of ideas and revivify the traditional networking role of cities.
  • Civic Tools for Collaboration – The New Proximity will be facilitated by making public access civic tools available such as calendars, maps, list serves, polling, and organizers. These may be incorporated from providers of web widgets such as Google or custom developed if needed.
  • More Secure Experience – With a focus on a limited and fixed geographic area, a nexus requirement for acquiring a city domain name (i.e., a demonstrated residency or business interest in the city), and working in close cooperation with the extant institutions, public interest city-TLD operators can approximate the expectation and experience found on such TLDs as .gov and .edu.
  • Unbiased Directories – A public interest TLD can create directories of selected second level domain names like www.hotels.nyc and www.schools.nyc, making city resources far more accessible. For example, a carefully designed and managed www.hotels.nyc directory would provide global access to a small directory page presenting the city’s hotels using alpha and geographic links to sites of the hotel’s choice. Or a directory might make a city’s schools accessible by organizing them by public vs. private, and primary, secondary, and university.
  • Intuitive Design - A well planned and organized TLD will be intuitive and provide confidence that “guesses” will be effective. For example, today one might imagine success by directly entering www.ibm.com or www.coke.com into a browsers address space. With a fresh name space residents might presume an entry ww w.jaquescafe.paris will reach its target. Intuitive design will also play a role in encouraging directory searches of likes of www.bookstores.london or www.restaurants.nyc. 
  • Transparent Search Engine – Whether one is searching for a hotel or issues surrounding a local election, the trustworthiness of the responses is vital. Developers of GC-TLDs will find advantage by presenting search engines with transparent heuristics.
  • Identity – While any city-TLD will say for example, "Made in Berlin" or "From Mumbai," a TLD operated in the public interest will assure the long term preservation of a TLD as a symbol of a city’s character. And with public participation in its design and development, it will provide that point of civic pride around which a population will rally to protect its brand. 
  • Shrink Digital Divide – A public interest TLD could (and should be expected to) commit a portion of funds received from name sales and other sources to facilitate  the provision of civic collaboration tools, education, training and eradicating digital divides.
  • Over the Horizon - With the foundation of an effective public interest TLD based in transparency, accountability, and public participation one might hope, and indeed expect, that an engaged public will transform the Internet’s capabilities into city resources of types yet unimagined. 
  • Economic Development - Finally, by imagining .nyc as a foundation infrastructure that will enable the future development of the city, providing jobs as well as civic enhancement, one begins to enter the digital city and New York's future.

These advantages begin to explain why Connecting.nyc initiated the campaign to acquire and develop a public interest TLD. What’s needed is an effective and accountable governance ecology that will enable public understanding and participation in CnI’s operation. This page begins the effort to research, explore, and explain how the “local will” will be captured and presented in a governance ecology for the .nyc TLD. 

Civic Hoarding

Ed Teal, a candidate for Marshall County Sheriff in Guntersville, Alabama, has filed a lawsuit against his opponent, incumbent Scott Wall’s, chief deputy, Doug Gibbs. In Teal’s lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court, he claims that in January he went to register a website for his campaign and discovered that almost all of the web addresses he could use, for example www.edtealforsheriff.com, had already been registered. Read the article: http://gigalaw.com/2010/05/14/sheriffs-candidate-sues-opponent-for-domain-names/.





­When imagining the role of the .nyc TLD, arriving 25 years after .com globalized our city, one must ask:

    • Is there still an opportunity to reconfigure the Internet to make it an effective medium for local community and civic communication?
    • Can the Net advance the public interest in civic discourse and education, areas where previous mass media - radio and television - largely failed?
    • Is it possible to create an environment where .nyc fosters local commerce while advancing our city's global visibility?

Barring the development of an effective bottom-up governance ecology, the public interest on our local Internet is likely to follow the route of radio and television, with the preponderance of societal decisions made by those with narrow interests and strong financial resources. Candidates for public office will once again be judged largely by the amount of money they raise to buy “Internet time” and not by the quality of their ideas, character, and qualifications. Community and civic communication on the Internet will be relegated to narrow “black and white” channels while commercial behemoths dominate the public mind using high definition. Local products and services will be overwhelmed by the forces of globalization.

Connecting.nyc Inc., a N.Y.S. not-for-profit with origins in a 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution, believes the opportunity exists to develop an effective and efficient medium for local civic and commercial communication through the development of the .nyc TLD as digital infrastructure. We have identified a series of benefits that will arise with .nyc's operation in the public interest - see sidebar - and are working to create an environment that will facilitate their realization. One key to that environment is an effective governance ecology that provides:

  • The precise technology instruments required to operate an effective and secure TLD,
  • Channels and mechanisms that enable the TLD’s multiple stakeholders to collaborate in its operation. Such stakeholders include the Internet technical community, local Internet users and organizations (businesses, nonprofits, city government), the ICANN (the organization that will approve the .nyc TLD), with due consideration for those not currently using this newest mass communications infrastructure.

Oversight Models for the .nyc TLD

Roles of Oversight Entity

  1. Observatory
  2. Clearinghouse
  3. Laboratory
  4. School
  5. Scout
  6. Early Warning System
  7. Watchdog

The Public Access Model

The following provides the scope of relationships between the city of New York and the operation of the .nyc TLD. The model is based on precedent set in the operation of the city's public access cable channels.


  • Policy Oversight Committee - Composed of elected representatives of the people of the city of New York.
  • Executive Committee - Appointed by the Policy Oversight Committee, the Executive Committee will assess the opportunities and options presented by the .nyc TLD and recommend a Cyber Land-Use Policy Document to the Policy Oversight Committee.
  • Cyber Land-Use Document - The guiding document for the operation of the .nyc TLD.
  • Operating Entity - Guided by the Cyber Land-Use Policy Document, the Operating Entity will oversee the development and operation of the .nyc TLD.
  • Education - The long term primary responsibility of the Operating Entity is educating city residents and organizations about the effective use of the .nyc TLD.
  • Marketing - Creating an awareness as to the availability of .nyc names to New Yorkers and the global Internet community.
  • Registry - The Registry is the database of issued and reserved .nyc domain names. Operation of the Registry involves administering the policy guidelines set out in the Cyber Land-Use Document and overseeing a contract for the technical operation of the registry database, the back-end.
  • Aftermarket - Administering domain name auctions and transfers.

The Brazilian Model

The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, with oversight of the .br TLD, is considered a successful governance model for a country code TLD. It is composed of 21 members, as follows:

  • Nine representatives from the Federal Government
    • Ministry of Science and Technology;
    • Ministry of Communication;
    • Presidential Cabinet;
    • Ministry of Defense;
    • Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade;
    • Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management;
    • National Telecommunication Agency;
    • National Council for Scientific and Technological Development;
    • National Council of State Secretariats for Science, Technology and Information Issues - CONSECTI.
  • Four representatives from the corporate sector
    • Internet access and content providers;
    • Telecommunication infrastructure providers;
    • Hardware, telecommunication and software industries;
    • Enterprises that use the Internet.
  • Four representatives from the third sector
  • Three representatives from the scientific and technological community
  • One Internet expert

Relevant Links

  • Lex Mercatoria - A a legal system used by merchants in medieval Europe.