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Battle against 'closed registry' for .CLOUD gTLD yet to be won, warns CIF.

The window for public comments for ICANN's 'closed registry' generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) drew to a close on the 7th March, bringing with it some positive developments, including what appeared to be a recognition from Google that public opinion was not in favour of a closed registry for .CLOUD.

However, argues the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF). it's important that the industry keeps focus on the global vendors Amazon, Google and Symantec and unites to object to ICANN, through the International Chamber of Commerce, to their applications for a closed registry related to .CLOUD.

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 what is referred to 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. The window of opportunity closed on 7th March.

Andy Burton, Chair of CIF, said: "The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive to our 'common sense' position to object to a closed registry for .CLOUD. It has been encouraging to see similar perspectives put forward from many cloud vendors and from other respected organisations like Open Forum Europe, Eurocloud, UKITA and the ACCA, amongst others, in submitting public comments to ICANN through the formal process. But even though the timeline for public comments has closed, now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We need to press on with the formal objection process and ensure the market is increasingly aware of the issue so that people can make an informed choice on who to trust online."

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. He stated that although Google remains committed to the success of the new gTLD programme: "... there is particular sensitivity within the Internet community about certain broad terms that serve as industry descriptors. Neither the guidebook nor the law require special treatment of these terms, but the success of the gTLD program also relies on user and community support for new gTLDs, and the best user experience for these broad industry terms likely include the opportunity for users to access a variety of service providers." Andy continued: "Whilst it was encouraging to see these words from Google and they at least appear to signal good intent, it is not a foregone conclusion that they will formally withdraw their applications for a closed .CLOUD TLD. It is an encouraging development nonetheless and hopefully demonstrates a willingness on their behalf at least to realise public opinion is not on the side of closed registries for generic terms like .CLOUD. We must and will still pursue the process of Objection to the relevant applications they have submitted as nothing has actually changed at this time.

"Disappointingly, Amazon, on the other hand, seems to have steadfastly stuck to its original position, holding up the ICANN rulebook as a defence in its final comment on the 7th March. They maintain that it's too late to change the process now and that we should all let competition authorities police what happens in the real world post the launch of .CLOUD. Arguably, it will be too late if any vendor is permitted to lay claim to .CLOUD as a closed registry as we all know this is a nascent market that is now coming of age and the damage will likely be done on point of awarding the TLD in a closed form. Our argument to Amazon would be that if a closed registry is so important to their innovation and business model, then you have to ask yourself why they do not seek a closed registry for something more brand aligned to their business such as .AWS and embed that in their claimed strategy. I wonder why trying to lay claim to .CLOUD is so important to them unless they realise the potential of the phrase to lead market thinking on a term that is not theirs to own.'

www.cloudindustryforum.org
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Publication:Software World
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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