Day One: GNSO – New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP WG

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Focused on Work Track 5 (WT5) of the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures (“SubPro”) PDP WG, the purpose of these back to back sessions was to facilitate dialogue on the topic of “geographic names” at the top-level. 

These sessions were led by WT5 co-leaders, Javier Rúa-Jovet, Annebeth Lange, Olga Cavalli and Martin Sutton from ALAC, ccNSO, GAC & GNSO, respectively. Those interested in discussing outcomes achieved to date as well as progressing WT5’s recommendations, were encouraged to participate in these sessions, that by the way, were very well attended.

The SubPro PDP is focused on considering the 2012 round policy as embodied in the Applicant Guide Book (2012 AGB) & determining what changes, if any, might need to be made there. SubPro shall produce the rules that would apply to a new round of gTLDs.   

SubPro has several Work Tracks, and the fifth (WT5) focuses exclusively on this topic of “geographic names” as TLD (right of the dot in a string), including both ASCII and IDN forms.

An (extended) public comment period ended on 1 February 2019 on WT5’s Supplemental Initial Report of 5 December 2018. Public comments were compiled by co-leaders and staff attempting to provide an initial assessment of Agreement, Concerns, New Idea, Divergence in relation to WT5’s report.

Overall, most commenters and Marrakech meeting participants are seeking to maintain existing geographic names protections as deployed in the 2012 AGB.  In general, these geographic names in the AGB are country & territory names (alpha-2 & alpha-3 on the ISO 3166-1 list; short and long-form country/territory names on ISO 3166-1; some additional categories in section of AGB; translations, permutations, transpositions, separable components of these country/territory names, exceptionally reserved strings & commonly known names as evidenced by treaty or int. gov org. All these are currently unavailable as gTLDs. Capital cities in ISO 3166-1, sub-national place names (e.g., county, province, state on ISO 3166-2), currently require support/non-objection from relevant governments or public authorities. UNESCO regions appearing on the “Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings” list, currently require support/non-objection from at least 60% of the respective national governments in a region.

There is, however, outright opposition from some on extending protections to categories of “geographic names” that were not present in the 2012 AGB: geonames such as geographic features (rivers, mountains, valleys, lakes, etc.) & culturally significant terms related to geography.  This last category is polarizing. Any deviation from current policy would require consensus. 

WT5 shall continue working on these issues to find ways forward on the salient issues.

Reported by Javier Rúa