ICANN Releases gTLD Applicant Guidebook

Per their timeline, ICANN released the gTLD Applicant Guidebook on May 30th.

This version contains revisions based upon both community feedback, as well as recent consultations with the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

Notable amendments include:

  • Acknowledgement that the GAC has indicated that strings that could raise sensitivities include those that “purport to represent or that embody a particular group of people or interests based on historical, cultural, or social components of identity, such as nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, belief, culture or particular social origin or group, political opinion, membership of a national minority, disability, age, and/or a language or linguistic group (non-exhaustive)” and “those strings that refer to particular sectors, such as those subject to national regulation (such as .bank, .pharmacy) or those that describe or are targeted to a population or industry that is vulnerable to online fraud or abuse.”
  • ICANN’s pronouncement that they reserve the right to make reasonable updates and changes to the Applicant Guidebook at any time, including as the possible result of new technical standards, reference documents, or policies that might be adopted during the course of the application process.
  • The availability of support to applicants throughout the application process via the Applicant Service Center (ASC). The ASC will be staffed with customer service agents to answer questions relating to the New gTLD Program, the application process, and TAS. Questions may be submitted via newgtld@icann.org. To provide all applicants equitable access to information, ICANN will make all questions and answers publicly available.
  • Further clarification of those requirements necessary to obtain exemption from the Registry Code of Conduct which include 1) that all domain name registrations in the TLD are registered to, and maintained by, Registry Operator for its own exclusive use 2) Registry Operator does not sell, distribute or transfer control or use of any registrations in the TLD to any third party that is not an Affiliate of Registry Operator, and 3) application of this Code of Conduct to the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest.

This version is not open for public comment and the ICANN Board is expected to consider approval of the New gTLD Program on June 20th, during ICANN’s meeting in Singapore. It is possible that the new gTLD Program could be approved on June 20th (triggering the start of the 4-month communication period) but that additional amendments to the Guidebook could still be implemented prior to the actual application launch, as the GAC is scheduled to meet with the ICANN Board on June 19th.

If the New gTLD Program is approved on June 20th, the application launch period could begin as early as October 20th. The launch is scheduled to last 60 days.