One of ICANN‘s key responsibilities is introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names, while ensuring the security and stability of the domain name system (DNS). Below are major milestones in the program leading up to the GAC Beijing Communiqué:
- ICANN‘s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) begins a policy development process to consider the introduction of new gTLDs in 2005
- The “GAC Principles Regarding New gTLDs” is presented to the ICANN Board in 2007
- ICANN Board adopted 19 specific GNSO policy recommendations for implementing new gTLDs in 2008
- ICANN undertakes implementation process to address stakeholder concerns, such as the protection of intellectual property and community interests, consumer protection, and DNS stability during 2008-2011. This work includes public consultations, review, and input on multiple draft versions of the Applicant Guidebook
- The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and the ICANN Board engage in intensive consultations regarding the GAC‘s “scorecard” advice on new gTLDs during first half of 2011
- In June 2011, ICANN‘s Board of Directors approved the Guidebook incorporating most of the GAC‘s scorecard advice and authorized the launch of the New gTLD Program
- ICANN opens the New gTLD application window on January 12, 2012. On June 11, 2012, ICANN reveals the 1,930 New gTLD applications received and posted them for public comment
- On October 12, 2012, the GAC issues its Toronto Communiqué, indicating that “[t]he statements and commitments detailed in individual gTLD applications are a critical input to the GAC‘s work” and advised the ICANN Board “that it is necessary for all of these statements of commitment and objectives to be transformed into binding contractual commitments, subject to compliance oversight by ICANN.”
- On November 20, 2012, the GAC files and publicly posts 242 Early Warnings on individual New gTLD applications.
- On February 5, 2013, in response to advice provided in the Toronto GAC Communiqué, the New gTLD Program Board Committee approves a public comment period on a proposed “Public Interest Commitments Specification” as a mechanism to transform application statements into binding contractual commitments, as well as to give applicants the opportunity to voluntarily submit to heightened public interest commitments. On March 6. 2013, ICANN posts the 499 PIC Specifications submitted by applicants.
The GAC met during the ICANN Beijing Meeting and provided additional advice to the ICANN Board regarding the New gTLD program. Relevant to this public forum is Section IV.1.b of the GAC Beijing Communiqué, which states, “To reinforce existing processes for raising and addressing concerns the GAC is providing safeguard advice to apply to broad categories of strings.” The safeguard advice appears in Annex I of the Beijing Communiqué.
ICANN officially notified applicants of the publication of GAC Advice on April 18, 2013, triggering the 21-day applicant response period per the Applicant Guidebook Module 3.1. The applicants’ responses and the input received in this Public Comment Forum will serve as important inputs to the New gTLD Board Committee’s consideration of the GAC Advice.