As the auction for the .kids string commences in a duel between Amazon and the DotKids Foundation Limited, a project of DotAsia (Google, which had applied for .kid, was to be involved but has withdrawn their application), ICANN is now seeking community input into how to spend the millions its gained from auctions to resolve contention between new gTLD strings. After costs, this total now stands at over $233 million.
To work out how to disperse the funds raised through auctions to resolve contention sets, ICANN developed a New gTLD Auction Proceeds Cross-Community Working Group (CCWG) to develop options. The charter for the CCWG means it’s not its role to decide, nor provide recommendations on which specific organisations or projects are to be funded or not.
The top 3 new gTLD strings to date have been the $135 million Verisign paid for .web, the $41,501,000 that GMO Registry paid for .shop and the $25,001,000 Google paid for .app.
The CCWG initially considered four possible mechanisms to disburse the new gTLD Auction Proceeds. Although the CCWG believes all four mechanisms are probably viable, after analysing these potential frameworks in light of legal and fiduciary constraints and other criteria, the CCWG believes there are 2 options that are the most promising.
The first of the 2 mechanisms are for ICANN to establish a new ICANN Proceeds Allocation Department dedicated to grant solicitation, implementation and evaluation. The department would be funded out of the auction proceeds, could leverage expertise from other parts of ICANN but that it should have some separation. A second mechanism would see ICANN establish a new Proceeds Allocation Department as part of that would work in collaboration with an existing charitable organisation or organisations. Under the second option an external entity would support specific aspects of the fund allocation work.
A third option, not favoured by the CCWG but also on which input is sought, involves ICANN establishing an ICANN Foundation. This would involve a new charitable structure separate from ICANN which would be responsible for solicitation and evaluation of proposals, and the disbursement of the funds but adhere to the principles core mission of ICANN.
There are 11 questions on which the CCWG is seeking response, at a minimum, including on framework, limitations of fund allocation, safeguards, timeframes, conflicts of interest, should preferences be given to organisations in developing economies, whether ICANN or an external organisation oversee proposal evaluation and fund disbursement, appropriate level of overheads, governance framework, should ICANN be allowed to be a beneficiary of auction funds and any review mechanisms.
Comments are now open and close on 27 November, with a staff report due on 15 December.
The Initial Report of the new gTLD Auction Proceeds Cross Community Working Group is available here with links on how to follow updates, view comments and make comments.