ICANN report praises, rips domains

ICANN meets next week to choose new top-level domains to supplement .com, .org, et al. Today, ICANN staffers give their own opinions on the winners and losers.

The proposed top-level domain .air may take flight. And it's certainly not over for .fin by a long shot. The information looks good for .info, and .one looks like it's the one.

So say ICANN staffers, who on Friday issued a long-awaited report on the 44 applications ICANN received from companies hoping to create new top-level domains and, in most cases, become the registry and registrar for those domains.

The staffers ripped some, praised others. They also concluded what types of top-level domains (TLDs) the board should consider when it meets next week, favoring general-purpose domains over specialty ones.

Nearly half got some form of positive review, from being called the "strongest" or dubbed "likely to create a successful TLD." But the other half were given thumbs-down from the same staffers.

ICANN board members meet next week and will discuss the staff report.

But what the new top-level domains will be -- they will supplement the existing .com, .org., .gov, and the like -- and who gets the money-making role as registrar for these domains, may not be decided by next week.

The most hotly sought-after domains were .kids and .biz, with multiple applications for each. However, ICANN has indicated that it probably will not recommend .kids.

There were four applications for the .kids domain, which people had hoped would serve as a kids-safe Web area. The application from .Kids Domain Inc. was "the strongest application in the area," according to ICANN staffers.

But the winner isn't as clear cut for .biz. Staffers liked three of the five applications, calling them "stronger."

Other applications getting the thumbs-up included .mus, submitted by the Museum Domain Management Association, which ICANN staffers said "could lead to a successful" venture.

The submission of .per -- meant for use by anyone wanting his or her own personal Web page -- was a "solid" submission from applicant JV Team LLC.

The domain .travel -- submitted by International Air Transport Association, an 80-year-old airline industry group -- "could lead to a successful new TLD," staffers wrote.

Another would-be winner is the World Health Organization, which wants to create .health, ICANN staffers said.

While staffers kept their praise muted for the would-be winners, they weren't as genteel for the applications they didn't like.

They said the application from the Rathbawn Corp., an Irish company that hoped to create .africa, among other top-level domains, "has not demonstrated a complete and thorough understanding of the business."

An application from Image Online Inc., which hoped to create .web, had other applicants vying for the same name that were "simply more realistic."

An Image Online spokesman disagreed with the findings. The report considered the company under-funded, despite two lines of credit totaling more than $5 million if granted the top-level domain, the spokesman said.

Along with rating each of the 44 applications, staffers also indicated the category of top-level domains that should be created.

For example, ICANN staffers are arguing against creating domains that are solely meant as safe havens for children's sites, despite glowing reviews of some of the applications.

"Because of the inadequacies in the proposed technical and business measures to actually promote kid-friendly content, the evaluation team does not recommend selecting a .kids domain in the current phase of the TLD program," staffers wrote.

A red-light area marked by a .xxx top-level domain, where porn sites would live, got the same type of treatment. One of the major objections was how to get porn sites to comply and what to do if they didn't.

"Because of the controversy surrounding, and poor definition of the hoped-for benefits of .xxx, we also recommend against its selection at this time," staffers wrote.

Applications for a domain for devices lumped into a "telephony group category" are also being frowned upon. Proposals include a domain of .1, which would be used to give appliances Internet addresses.

Staffers praised some of the proposals in this category, but said as a whole they should be rejected mainly because of confusion in the wireless industry about standards, staffers wrote.

Instead, ICANN should wait until "further study and consensus-building within the Internet and telephony technical communities."

But not all top-level domain categories were dumped upon. General-purpose domains, which include proposed domains like .biz, .web, and .info, are likely winners, according to the staff report.

There are 14 companies vying for about 35 top-level domains that ICANN staffers consider to be "general purpose."

"The team believes that the Board could responsibly select a limited number of applications from this group," the staffers wrote.

Another likely winning domain type is the personal-use ones, which include such TLDs as .name, .nom and .i, which was submitted by the Sarnoff group.

"This group includes several strong applications, justifying selection of a limited number of them," the staffers wrote.

Special-purpose top-level domains, such as the World Health Organizations' .health, or a domain for labor unions (.union) are also likely winners, according to the staffers.


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