Recently-delegated TLDs: December 2016

TLDs delegated by ICANN this month are all a little strange, each in their own way and, as always, they all represent a slightly different take on the intersection between TLD and community.

Recently-delegated TLDs

.freeNovember 8

Perhaps the most contentious of the TLDs delegated to the root zone this past month, the .free TLD was among the 58 applications the European Commission flagged as potentially incompatible with “existing policy positions and objectives of the European Union.”

At issue is a letter sent to applicants for 58 TLDs by the European Commission in 2012 in which they specifically noted that in doing so they were side-stepping ICANN’s mitigation process.

The heart of the issue lies in the European Commission’s disagreements with ICANN, specifically regarding adopting their copyright and trademark policy, which is a long-standing conflict going back years. Suffice it to say the European Commission leadership doesn’t feel empowered enough by ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model.

In the end, Amazon won the contract to manage .free in their TLD portfolio.

.foodNovember 10

When the new TLD program began, Minds+Machines and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck teamed up to secure and promote the .food TLD. The idea evidently was that Minds+Machines would apply for and manage .food while Puck would be used to promote it.

Minds+Machines says that when Wolfgang’s wife got involved the couple demanded involvement in TLDs Minds+Machines was working on while the Pucks claim Minds+Machines reneged on their deal.

In the end, .food went to Lifestyle Domains Holding Company with Verisign serving as the technical backend. It doesn’t seem like any celebrity chefs are as-yet on board.

.boxNovember 11

Initially in the application process, ICANN flagged .box as a potential source of name collision issues, but not long afterwards (a matter of weeks, really) ICANN removed the block on the .box application (among others) and allowed it to proceed as normal.

It was delegated to NS1 Limited, a Hong Kong based company, who beat out Amazon for this TLD. Backend services will be provided by Neustar.

.cruise November 12

The .cruise application was one of the TLD applications that got a warning from ICANN’s GAC (Government Advisory Committee) because both applicants — Cruise Lines International Association Inc. and Viking River Cruises Ltd. were single companies within the cruise line industry seeking to register the TLD for their entire sector.

As has been the case for other applications the GAC gave such warnings for (most prominently Amazon’s .book application), the ICANN board approved the delegation of .cruise to Viking River Cruises Ltd. (with Afilias acting as the backend provider).

.boston November 29

For some reason geoTLDs were much more popular when ICANN opened applications for new gTLDS for Europe much more than in the US. While there are now nearly thirty delegated new European gTLDs, .boston joins .nyc and .miami as one of a much smaller number of US cohort (.quebec is Canada’s only new geoTLD so far, Africa has just three, Asia has 13, Oceania two and just .rio for South America).

Backed up by a letter of support from the City of Boston, the Boston Globe newspaper applied for and was delegated this TLD and got it totally uncontroversially.
Which makes it somewhat of an ideal new gTLD. The community served, being geographic rather than conceptual, is clearly delineated, the applicant has a clear stake in that community and has the full support of the clear, entitled representatives of the community.

.catholic, .天主教, .كاثوليك, .католик

These three TLDs are more like a BrandTLD, but worth mentioning. As you may have guessed, the Roman Catholic church applied for .catholic. The .天主教, .كاثوليك, and .католик TLDs (Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic, respectively) are all just alternate script transliterations of the same. And that makes intuitive sense, even if this is the only application so far for a TLD on the part of a world religion.

However, the Roman Catholic Church isn’t the only Christian religion to use this label and it was the Saudi Arabian government (because … who else?) who raised this point in objecting to these three TLDs (among others).

While the Vatican has previously issued statements disparaging some of the kinds of content that has become widespread with the advent of the internet, applying for these new TLDs also shows a willingness to participate in the internet as well.

As we’ve seen in months past, making sure the communities represented by a particular TLD are given their say in the process was one of the key goals of ICANN’s new gTLD program. This month’s crop of newly-delegated TLDs is full of odd balls that nonetheless show interesting ways in which communities react to the creation of new TLDs, whether related or not.