• Trust Buttons

last modified October 27, 2014 by tomlowenhaupt

In a competitive environment with a 1,000 new TLDs, differentiation is a key component in establishing one's brand. Here we discuss requiring "Trust Buttons" on websites using the .nyc TLD.

Trust Buttons

Go into any retail store in New York City and you'll see a number of signs posted, like the below, that are intended to provide assurance and recourse should something go wrong.



One of the limitations of accountability is the "kill the messenger" situation. What do we do with someone who sees a problem, would like to report it, but fears retribution?

Perhaps something like an anonymous.nyc site might provide a cozy and safe location for whistle-blowers. The financial and technical operation of the site would need to be worked out, as well as the more complex questions about legal issues surrounding subpoenas and such.






















































Enter any retail store in New York City and you'll see a number of signs posted, like those at right, that are intended to provide assurance and recourse should something go wrong. Depending upon the activities being undertaken in the store, these might reference a variety of Federal, State, and City agencies, for example, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and a handful of other agencies. The existence of these agencies and these posting requirements reflects the city's long experience with possible abuses.

In fine tuning its New TLD program the ICANN recently committed to develop metrics that might include the placement of recourse information on web pages. To establish New York as a City of Trust, the city should mandate, as a condition of using the .nyc TLD, the placement of a Trust Button or Buttons on every .nyc web page. These might vary by site, but would provide service and recourse equivalent to that currently provided by 311, 911, the Department of Consumer Affairs, etc.

Trust Builders

If New York is to become a City of Trust, it must educate and engage the TLD's 8,200,000 stakeholders (aka residents) as protectors of the city's top level domain. It must develop a TLD-Watch program (like the public safety Block-Watch programs) that trains moderators to identify and act when spotting illegal or inappropriate content. And it must engage and educate a 300,000 strong civic workforce to enforce city law and regulations as they apply to Internet services. And it must wire the energies of these Trust Builders into every website using the .nyc TLD through the placement of Trust Buttons.

The Buttons

It is important to note that while the discussion here is about enforcement of laws and regulations, 99.99% of all interactions with .nyc websites will be positive and problem free. And that in those rare instances where problems occur, the party claiming injury should in the first instance be encouraged to seek satisfaction from the sites operator. There may be instances this is inappropriate, e.g., when danger is feared by the party claiming injury, but in general, self-moderation should be encouraged within a Trust Button framework.

Button "content" would include standard information, warnings, and recourse channels for city, state, federal governments, and ICANN requirements for Whois. Privacy settings might also be included within the Trust Buttons.

    The Trust Button framework

    There are two general approaches to designing a Trust Button framework: requiring multiple buttons or a single button per page approach. With clutter negatively affecting the efficacy of the Trust Button goals, we've followed a single button approach in the following prescription.
    • Language - Each of the city official languages should be provided at a minimum.
    • Look - A uniform design should be sought, with an awareness that different size Buttons will be required to march form, i.e., phone, desktop, etc.
    • Placement - While options should be allowed to enable marketing and message diversity, consistent placement will advance effectiveness.
    • Linkages - Coding technical protocols to tie traditional city regulatory structures into support for the .nyc TLD, e.g., e-311.


    Trust Button content will come from a variety of sources, particularly city agencies and ICANN. The following is an early submission for the .budapest TLD created in response to the ICANN Public Interest Commitments requirement. The .budapest Commitments provide some insight into the ICANN inspired Trust Button content:

    With reference to the Government Advisory Committee Toronto Communiqué (October 17, 2012); the
    United States Government (USG) Input to Early Warning Processes for New Generic Top-Level Domain
    Names (gTLDs) Via the Governmental Advisory Committee; and the letter from Lawrence Strickling of
    the U.S. Department of Commerce to Dr. Stephen Crocker, Chair of the Board of Directors of ICANN,
    dated February 26, 2013, we offer the following commitments:

    We will implement and operate a robust abuse mitigation process to minimize abusive registrations that
    have a negative impact on Internet users and rights holders. We commit to establish and promulgate an
    Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for registrants, which will feature enforceable processes designed to ensure
    that registered domain names will be used only for legitimate activities. Our AUP will include but is not
    limited to the following commitments we agree to be bound by within the confines of applicable laws:

    • To publish and make readily available to the public policies and procedures that cover domain name acceptable use, naming standards, and which define malicious or abusive behavior. Abusive behavior includes, but is not limited to, using domain names for spam, phishing, pharming, and illegal activity, as well as cybersquatting or other behavior that infringes the rights of others;
    • To make these policies and procedures binding upon registrants by requiring registrars to get registrant agreement to our AUP as a condition of registration during the sign-up process;
    • To provide an easily accessible flagging process that allows members of the public, law enforcement, and other government entities to quickly and easily call attention to possible cases of non-compliance with these policies or to report abuse;
    • To provide a single point of contact, available to law enforcement and other authorized government entities, responsible for addressing reports of abuse, non-compliance and other matters requiring expedited attention;
    • To constructively work with law enforcement to address reported cases of abuse;
    • To timely review, resolve, and respond to reported cases of abuse, including implementation of procedures that allow us, within the confines of applicable laws and in cases where domain registrations are determined to have been used abusively, to:
      • Suspend or delete abusive domain names;
      • Block registrants of abusive domain names from further registrations; and/or
      • Suspend or delete all names associated with a registrant.
    • To prevent registration of exact matches of geographic names at the second level as defined by the Applicant Guidebook of January 12, 2012, except by authorized representatives of the governmental authority of the territory in question;
    • To prevent registration of exact matches of IGO names at the second level, according to the list to be provided by the GAC as per the GAC Toronto Communiqué of 17 October 2012, except by authorized representatives of the IGO in question;
    • To institute a 60-day Trademark Sunrise using the Trademark Clearinghouse process;
    • To develop a dispute-resolution procedure that supplements ICANN-mandated processes, including access to alternative resolution processes; and
    • To implement security policies and procedures commensurate with the security profile of the TLD.

    City and other government related Trust Button content will be discerned after gather input from the various agencies.

        Trust Button Education

        Success here depends on public support and effective enforcement of stated standards through the traditional regulatory channels, and/or the creation of new ones if necessary.

        Education about the Trust Buttons should be presented within a general education campaign about the importance of the city's TLD to the city's brand. A TLD-Watch program, modeled after the public safety Block-Watch programs which train residents to identify and report online violations, is an important component of the Trust Button framework.

              Key .nyc Pages