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ICANN Resolutions » Refinement of second similarity review for the evaluation of the IDN ccTLD applications

Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.

Refinement of second similarity review for the evaluation of the IDN ccTLD applications


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Topic: 
Refinement of second similarity review for the evaluation of the IDN ccTLD applications
Summary: 

Board asks the ccNSO, in consultation with other stakeholders, including GAC and SSAC, to provide further guidance on and refinement of the methodology of second string similarity review process

Category: 
Board
ccTLDs
Meeting Date: 
Thu, 25 Jun 2015
Resolution Number: 
2015.06.25.16
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, the ICANN Board of Directors approved the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Implementation Plan on 30 October 2009 (http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-30oct09-en.htm#2).

Whereas, the ccNSO developed and the ccNSO Council passed the recommendations for the IDN ccTLD String Selection Policy to include a two-panel process for string similarity evaluation (http://ccnso.icann.org/node/38787).

Whereas, ICANN has received multiple inputs and advice from the community calling for additional transparency and consistency of the string similarity evaluation, including advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee.

Whereas, the ccNSO chairperson sent a request to the ICANN Board of Directors to implement the two-panel process for string similarity review in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process.

Whereas, the ICANN Board of Directors approved the Update to IDN ccTLD Fast Track Implementation to implement the two-panel process for string similarity review in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process on 27 June 2013 (https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2013-06-27-en...).

Whereas, the ICANN Board of Directors approved to allow for all pending requests for IDN ccTLD strings under the Fast Track process to have the option to request evaluation by the Extended Process Similarity Review Panel (EPSRP), if applicable.

Whereas, upon the request of the relevant applicants, the pending IDN ccTLD strings under the Fast Track process were evaluated by the EPSRP, and the EPSRP reports for the three applications were published with evaluation results on the ICANN website on 14 October 2014 (https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/epsrp-reports-2014-10-14-en).

Whereas, public feedback was received during the third annual review of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process on issues related to the experimental methodology and results reported by the EPSRP on 17 March 2015 (https://www.icann.org/public-comments/idn-cctld-fast-track-2015-01-15-en).

Resolved (2015.06.25.16), the Board asks the ccNSO, in consultation with other stakeholders, including GAC and SSAC, to provide further guidance on and refinement of the methodology of second string similarity review process, including the interpretation of its split recommendations, to be applied to the relevant current and subsequent cases in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process as well as to inform the proposed policy for the selection of the IDN ccTLD strings.

Rationale for Resolution: 

Why the Board is addressing the issue?

On 5 November 2013, ICANN published an updated Final Implementation Plan for the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process [PDF, 851 KB] (the "Implementation Plan") with the changes required for the implementation of the two-panel string similarity review process, as resolved by the ICANN Board of Directors on 27 June 2013, in conjunction with Guidelines for the Extended Process Similarity Review Panel [PDF, 86 KB] (the "Guidelines") developed as per the Board resolution.

Based on the revision, three eligible IDN ccTLD Fast Track applicants exercised their option within the 90-day stipulated period, and requested second similarity review by the new Extended Process Similarity Review Panel (EPSRP). These included IDN ccTLD requests for Bulgaria (in Cyrillic), European Union (in Greek) and Greece (in Greek).

The second string similarity review by EPSRP, based on the Guidelines, has been completed and the Panel has submitted the corresponding reports to ICANN, which were shared with the applicants and published on the ICANN website on 14 October 2014, in accordance with the Implementation Plan and the Guidelines. For each application, the corresponding report includes a detailed description of the methodology and separate experimental results for confusion with the applied-for string and upper case form of the string as determined by the Panel, without an aggregated recommendation on acceptance or rejection of the string in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track application context, as the Panel considered that, from a purely visual point of view, upper and lower case characters are different elements. Where the recommendations by the panel are split, there are no explicit guidelines on how to deduce the aggregated recommendation, as the Panel considered the final decision to be a policy matter on cases where only one of upper or lower case for a given string was judged to be visually confusing.

Further, during the annual review of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process, ICANN has received public comments, which raise issues with the methodology followed by EPSRP and feedback on how to address split results.

The detailed methodology and the results published in the reports and the public comments provide the community an opportunity to refine the methodology for the second similarity review for the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process and for the proposed IDN ccTLD Policy, as intended by the resolution. This will also allow ICANN to determine how to close the one pending IDN ccTLD Fast Track application with split results reported by EPSRP.

What is the proposal being considered?

The Board's action today asks the ccNSO, in consultation other with relevant stakeholders, including GAC and SSAC, to review and refine the second similarity review based on the methodology and results reported by the EPSRP and the public comments received. The refinement process needs to take into consideration, among other factors, both the GAC advice [PDF, 122 KB] for a transparent process which is not "too conservative" as well as the security and stability concerns related to string similarity evaluation.

This will refine the current implementation of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process and also inform the proposed IDN ccTLD policy, currently under consideration.

Which stakeholders or others were consulted? What concerns or issues were raised by the community?

The updated Final Implementation Plan for the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process [PDF, 851 KB] and the subsequent Guidelines for the Extended Process Similarity Review Panel [PDF, 86 KB] were developed at the request of the ccNSO. The revision has taken into account the experiences and reviews of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process as well as the GAC Advice [PDF, 122 KB] which suggested introducing a second transparent similarity review process for current and future IDN ccTLD applicants.

The annual review of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process is open for the community, including the parties directly impacted by the second review by EPSRP. The public comments have been received by EURid, which is one of the affected parties.

What significant materials did the Board review?

The board has reviewed various materials and factors in its deliberations and in taking its action today. The relevant and significant materials include, but are not limited to, the following:

GAC Communiqué [PDF, 122 KB] – 28 June 2012
Final Report IDN ccNSO Policy Development Process [PDF, 376 KB] - 29 March 2013
ccNSO Council Meeting Beijing - 10 April 2013
Final Implementation Plan for IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process [PDF, 851 KB] - 5 November 2013
Guidelines for the Extended Process Similarity Review Panel (EPSRP) for the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process [PDF, 86 KB] - 4 December 2013
EPSRP-EvaluationReport-Bulgaria-Cyrillic [PDF, 4.81 MB] – 14 October 2014
EPSRP-EvaluationReport-EU-Greek [PDF, 2.47 MB] – 14 October 2014
EPSRP-EvaluationReport-Greece-Greek [PDF, 2.47 MB] – 14 October 2014
Public comments on the annual review of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process – 17 March 2015
What factors did the Board find to be significant?

The ccNSO IDN ccTLD Policy Development Process (PDP) has been submitted to the ICANN Board. One of the proposals under the expected policy recommendation is to introduce a two–panel mechanism for the confusing similarity review of requested IDN ccTLD strings. One of the objectives for the introduction of the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process is to experiment with the methodology for the selection of IDN ccTLD strings, amongst others, to inform the ccNSO PDP while meeting near-term demand for the introduction of IDN ccTLDs. The two-panel string similarity process, including the EPSRP as the second panel, was introduced within the Fast Track process to allow for testing and refining the second string similarity review process, if needed.

Further, though the Guidelines suggest that the independent EPSRP will provide an aggregated recommendation, the Panel has provided separate results for similarity of the applied-for string and its upper case form as determined by the Panel. The Panel did not aggregate these results into a single recommendation because based on their expert opinion upper and lower case characters are different visual elements. The Panel considered the final decision on split decision to be a policy matter.

Finally, the public comments received raise issues with the methodology followed by EPSRP and the scope of string similarity review.

Are there positive or negative community impacts? Are there fiscal impacts or ramifications on ICANN (strategic plan, operating plan, budget); the community; and/or the public?

The Board action has positive impact as it allows ccNSO to deliberate between the options, in consultation with other stakeholders, including GAC and SSAC, to refine the second string similarity review process. This discussion will also inform the proposed IDN ccTLD policy. There is no additional fiscal impact beyond what is already budgeted, if the eventual refinement can be implemented internally by ICANN.

Are there any security, stability or resiliency issues relating to the DNS?

The string similarity evaluation originates from the IDNC WG and the original Fast Track Implementation Plan [PDF, 497 KB]. It was introduced to minimize the risk of end-user confusion due to similarity of a string with existing Top Level Domains, two letter country codes in ISO 3166-1 and other labels which have been applied for or reserved for the Root zone, as discussed in Section 5.5 of the Implementation Plan. The Final Report - IDN ccNSO Policy Development Process [PDF, 376 KB] proposes the following about the Confusing similarity of IDN ccTLD Strings:

A selected IDN ccTLD string should not be confusingly similar with:

Any combination of two ISO 646 Basic Version (ISO 646-BV) characters (letter [a-z] codes), nor
Existing TLDs or Reserved Names as referenced in the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook
The following supplemental rules provide the thresholds to solve any contention issues between the IDN ccTLD selection process and new gTLD process:

A gTLD application that is approved by the ICANN Board will be considered an existing TLD unless it is withdrawn.
A validated request for an IDN ccTLD will be considered an existing TLD unless it is withdrawn.
Minimizing the risk of end-user confusion has at least two distinct functions: (i) provide a predictable user experience, where user can unambiguously use a domain name "in common fonts, in small sizes at typical screen resolutions", and (ii) contribute to a secure user experience, where user is protected from the possible spoofing and phishing threats.

Is this either a defined policy process within ICANN's Supporting Organizations or ICANN's Organizational Administrative Function decision requiring public comment or not requiring public comment?

The EPSRP process is introduced in the Fast Track process at the request of the ccNSO and following GAC Advice, pre-empting the adoption of the overall policy for selection of IDN ccTLD strings. Any changes proposed in the EPSRP mechanisms are subject to same public comment policy as its introduction within the Fast Track process.