.London Premium Domain Name Auctions Start

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London Evening Standard LogoNew York, July 15, 2015 – While New York City officials consider ways to issue the city-shaping and valuable Premium Domain Names – hotels.nyc, sports.nyc, news.nyc – London has settled on a plan for allocating its Premium Names. According to a story in today’s London Evening Standard:

Fifty of the most prized “dot London” website domain names are being auctioned from today to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the Standard’s charitable Dispossessed Fund.

Generic names such as cars.london, cinema.london, coffee.london, food.london and shoes.london were open to bids at noon at the domainauctions.london online sales room.

It is the latest phase of the roll-out of the new dot London website addresses with 64,000 already registered since launch in April 2014.

Up to a quarter of the proceeds from the auction, which closes at midday on July 30, will go to charities supported by the Dispossessed Fund subject to a cap of £50,000.

How much might the auction raise overall? Take a look at the early results here. With two weeks to go before this first auction concludes, rooms.london has a bid of £5,100 (about $8,000), with west.london in second place with a £2,501. So it would seem the Standard’s Disposessed Fund will max out with a £50,000 contribution.

The article mentions nothing about public interest commitments so our guess is that there are none, and that the Disposessed Fund is a fig leaf for the public interest.

Here in New York we’ve recommended that important Premium Names have public interest commitments attached. (Note: The city has set aside 3,069 names for consideration as premium names, some of which have little baring on the civic good such as 777.nyc and zero.nyc. We support auctioning these names.)

Public Interest Commitments will vary, perhaps requiring that hotels.nyc fairly present all the city’s hotels and that news.nyc and sports.nyc be based on local content. The New York Internet Society and Connecting.nyc Inc. organized a panel last December that suggested a PIC Oversight Board to delve into the intricacies of the allocation process.

Premium Names are a cornerstone of a successful city-TLD design plan. London seems to have taken its lead from General Motors’ chief Charles Erwin Wilson, saying (excuse our paraphrase) “What’s good for domain name sales is good for our city”. We await Mayor de Blasio’s plan.

 

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Report: Public Interest Commitments & Premium .nyc Domain Names

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Jackson Hts., New York, January 3, 2014 – The New York Internet Society and Connecting.nyc Inc. convened a panel on December 18 to explore the prospect and impact of requiring Public Interest Commitments (PICs) for some of the unallocated .nyc domain names – names such as news.nyc, sports.nyc, and hotels.nyc.

Internet thought leader Avri Doria kicked off the panel with a most informative and reflective history on the origin of ICANN’s new TLD program and the evolving role of PICs. She expressed a mixed viewpoint on the role of PICs, but was dubious about domain names being considered “magic words” – leaning toward the “there’s always a viable alternative” viewpoint.

Avri was followed by Thomas Lowenhaupt, founding director of Connecting.nyc Inc., who suggested that unallocated .nyc domain names be mined for those that might be shaped to benefit the public interest; and that those names have PICs attached to their development rights. (See list of 3,069 premium names.) To achieve this goal he suggested city hall establish a PIC Oversight Board to facilitate the identification and development of names that might benefit the public interest.

  • The Board should create guidelines for identifying public interest names and administer a process for their selection. That process should maximize opportunities for public engagement.
  • The Board should identify PIC features that might aide the development of markets and quality of life: maps, searchable alpha and geographic listings, public rankings, comments, reviews, etc. Names should be assigned appropriate PICs.
  • The Board should devise policies that maximize opportunities for the creative development of public interest names. These policies should enable for a broad spectrum of society to avail themselves of the opportunities provides by this new resource (not just current market leaders). These might include innovation credits, subsidies, stretched payment schedules, and other incentives.
  • The Board should advise on suitable means of distributing PIC names: high-bid auction, request for proposals, or other processes.
  • On an ongoing basis the Board should monitor the efficacy of the PIC program.

Finally, Gabriel Levitt, commenting on the .pharmacy TLD, provided insight into the role domain names can play in shaping a market and the public’s interest. Timothy McGinnis provided additional commentary on that topic. A full report on the presentations, a Q&A, and links to panelist videos and slides can be found on the meeting report page.

[Subsequent to the panel, member Thomas Lowenhaupt noted that he’d neglected to mention an important policy consideration relating to premium names and PICs – equity. His concern is that with high-bid auctions the sole criteria determining premium name allocation, new New Yorkers with new visions but slim bank accounts will find it difficult to participate in the .nyc marketplace. He requested that the equity issue be noted here for inclusion in the ongoing conversation.]

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A Report Card

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report cardJackson Hts., New York, August 3, 2014 – Not too long ago my wife dug up a Report Card of mine from 1954. While I’ve had quite a few since – some better some worse – on this eve of the .nyc Landrush I thought it might be fun to issue another that assesses my work on the .nyc TLD.

But what to assess? I could base it on the 2001 Internet Empowerment Resolution, which set my original course on .nyc, and claim an A grade. After all, the city has acquired .nyc and will run it as a public interest resource. “Great work Tom.”

However, it’s 2014 and 13 years have elapsed. Over the last decade, as the ICANN’s new TLD award processes were evolving, my research uncovered broad areas where a city-TLD could facilitate a city’s operation: portals, markets, identity, security, privacy, economic development, civic and neighborhood betterment, and more. A fair assessment should consider how well those findings were reflected in .nyc’s structure.

Had this assessment taken place in 2009 high marks might have been in order, for when the city issued its Request For Proposals it included many of our findings in the requirements.

But the ICANN’s planning dragged on, and our research continued. And I recall speaking with a city official in 2012 about recent findings. Frustrated, he chided me for continuously raising the bar: “We’ve done everything you asked for. We can’t keep changing things. Be realistic.”

[Let me pause here for a moment to point out the transition from “I” to “we” in the previous paragraph. This was a collaborative endeavor with my work enabled by a plethora of others. First there were my fellow community board members who listened and trusted that a city-TLD was important. There was the gentleman from Germany who goaded me in 2005 to reengage after a two year hiatus; a top TLD lawyer from Florida who guided me for several years; a board of directors who steered and encouraged me; a family that put up with this massive time eater; good friends who encouraged and criticized me; individuals and organizations that backed our effort with digital and financial resources; software engineers and other experts who advised; smart people in the DNS industry who taught me the ins and outs; city officials who strove to make the effort a success; and more. So I’m changing the nature of this assessment to one that looks at the overall city-TLD development process and its outcome. As to my personal Report Card, my work was far from perfect. Had it been better, our city-TLD would likely have provided more nuanced and beneficial features and benefits. But I’d like to think that I improved somewhat from my 1954 B in Effort.]

Before getting into the assessment, one final note on the city-TLD development environment. As the details of .nyc’s roll-out becomes clear, it’s increasingly apparent that we’ve been operating in what the economists call an “asymmetric knowledge” situation. This occurs where there’s inadequate expertise for one side to call upon in a negotiation. With this the first time cities have had the opportunity to develop their TLDs, the metric presented for comparison by the knowledge holder, the contractor, was name sales, not an improved quality of life. As a consequence, New York and the other cities applying for their TLDs were unprepared to evaluate the spectrum of opportunities presented. For a parallel situation see The Simpsons episode Marge Vs. The Monorail.

So, how did WE do?

I’ve rated 12 policy and operational criteria below. While the policies guiding these were selected during the Bloomberg years, the grades test against the current administration’s tougher “progressive” standards. The results show room for improvement. Note: Some digging into the Links might be required to uncover the basis of our suggested remedies.

            The Report Card

Subject Grade Explanation Remedy Links
Nexus C Inadequate pre-registration review. Post registration enforcement. Public pays for challenges. Expand P.O. Box description to include virtual office. Pre-registration review. More spot checks. City led challenges. More
Market Creation Inc. No sign of development of local markets. Many generic names reserved, so the potential exists for new local markets. More
Name Distribution Equity F City rejected NYS Trademarks and d/b/a names of current business and organization owners as basis for selection priority. Institute London’s Local Priority Preference process enabling existing businesses and organizations to get the names they now use. More
Landrush Auctions F No prior use preference. A regressive high-bid blind auction policy to resolve name contention. 60% of revenue flows to contractor in Virginia. Give priority to existing name users. Run Applicant Auctions that put name contestants in touch with one another. More
Sustainability D No expressed sustainability policy or programs. Third level name use in dotNeighborhoods effort is saving grace. Establish programs enabling sharing and pricing policy that promotes recycling of names. More
Local Jobs D No new registrar jobs created in city. Saving grace: you can request info on becoming registrar Train and ease entry for local registrars. More
Consumer Friendly C Complex and circuitous complaint process – city, ICANN, contractor, and At-Large have roles. Centralize complaints. Assure refund for Landrush auction losers. Create a City of Trust More
Governance D Closed (?) city advisory board. Create channels for public engagement. More
Government Names B+ The de Blasio Administration has acquired hundreds of names to foster city operations. More transparency and public engagement in name selection would have earned an A. More
Neighborhood Names B+ Traditional neighborhood names have been reserved for licensing to local residents. Dedicate funding for endeavor. More
Premium Names Inc. Regressive high-bid auctions for 2,000 names such as news.nyc, sports.nyc, pizza.nyc, doctors.nyc, etc. Premium names should have public interest clause. Hold public forums to create awareness and opportunity for local collaborations. More

 

Looking toward my next Report Card, I expect it to evaluate work being done outside the realm of the .nyc TLD. I’ve begun participating on an ICANN discussion group setting the criteria for future applicants for city-TLDs. The key concept is that cities will need to demonstrate they are TLD-ready by showing Informed Consent, rather than the current “Non-objection.” As well, they will need demonstrate engagement of the user community in creating these applications through the formation of At-Large Structures. Finally, the mass of materials we’ve assembled over the years will be organized into an accessible resource library. Success in those areas will require an A in effort.

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