.CLOUD gTLD debate will be won in court of public opinion, warns CIF

11 Apr, 2013

As the battle to prevent closed registry gTLDs wages on, Google has issued statements inferring a willingness to change its applications but is yet properly clarify its position on .CLOUD, offering only scant information about its proposals.


According to the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), the public comments to date leave a great deal of ambiguity and still infer forms of veto in terms of market eligibility to apply for second level domains (e.g. www.yourcompanyname.cloud) which fall far short of promising a free and open internet in which businesses can operate. The industry must maintain pressure and increase market awareness of the threat of closed registries while applicants for them, such as Amazon and Google, formulate their plans and responses to the Community Objections filed against these applications.


Last year ICANN opened up applications for new global TLDs, including generic phrases like .CLOUD, .APP and .SEARCH. However, applications have been made by some large organisations to register these TLDs as a ‘closed registry’, meaning that only the owner of the TLD decides who can have a second level domain. Interested parties were invited by ICANN to submit public comments on this issue to determine the circumstances under which a particular TLD operator should be permitted to adopt “open” or “closed” registration policies. On the final day for public comments, Ben Fried, Google’s Vice President and CIO, submitted a statement to ICANN in which he signalled their intentions to revise their applications for .APP, .BLOG, .CLOUD and .SEARCH.


In a letter to the ICANN board on 6th April, Google clarified its intentions for .SEARCH and .APP, but offered little in the way of information about its plans for .CLOUD. Here Google stated: “We are in the earlier stages of discussions with others in the cloud community, but intend to develop similar technical standards as with .BLOG,” and that it expected to submit an amendment to their application for .CLOUD in the near future.


Andy Burton (pictured), Chair of the CIF, said: “In spite of previous recognition from Google that public opinion was not in favour of a closed registry for .CLOUD, and the subsequent submission of Community Objections submitted by CIF and others, we are unaware of any attempts to discuss concerns from the community by Google. Bearing in mind that our Community Objection was supported by 11 other cloud bodies from around the world, this is disappointing. We wish to go on record to say that we are willing to discuss the wider industry and community concerns with them and any of the other applicants who have yet to clarify their position.


“What we do know is that Google has stated that it will seek to apply similar standards to .CLOUD as it will for .BLOG, which, from the point of view of the industry, would be problematic. This scenario would see Google limit second-level domain name registrations for .CLOUD and require compliance with as yet unspecified criteria and pricing to obtain the domain, doing little to improve the anti-competitive effects of the TLD.


“Quite simply, the common sense approach to this is in our opinion that a market player should not be allowed to serve as gatekeeper to a generic industry term in a market in which they compete. If Amazon, Google or Symantec require a closed registry, it would be more appropriate for them to use one of their brands or a non-generic phrase. You have to repeatedly ask yourself why any vendor believes they have to control .CLOUD if there is no association to the generic term that is advantageous to them commercially. We are calling for the industry to keep the pressure on ICANN and the applicants, and to continue to educate the market on the issue.”

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