• The .NYC Advisory Board Meeting #2 - August 14, 2013

last modified March 27, 2014 by tomlowenhaupt

A report and comments on the August 14, 2013 meeting of the .NYC Community Advisory Board.


Board Responsibilities

The Board's role includes:

"Meet four times per year and communicate through email to exchange ideas. Board members are to serve for a one-year term and will work on the following responsibilities:

        • Quarterly Board Meetings

        • Provide feedback on the development of .nyc including strategies for using, delegating and marketing the top level domain

        • Discuss future uses of the domain including public utilities, smart city ideas and future planning uses such as email addresses for residents

        • Act as a community ambassador  to provide updates to your constituency or sector, and relay feedback to the group

        • Provide input into policy and content for community.nyc" 

Beyond these fundamentals, the founding documents provide that the board's scope is to be decided by its members.

Board Members

About The .NYC Governance Structure

The following stakeholders are involved with the .nyc TLD. How they all relate and how does the Advisory Board's findings influence the TLD's development?

  • Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) - The city's contract administrator.
  • Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) - Through the Chief Digital Officer, facilitates government and public input to refining the contract.
  • NeuStar Inc. - Holds 5 year contract to operate and market .nyc TLD.
  • .NYC Advisory Board - See responsibilities above.
  • Connecting.nyc Inc. - In its role as an At-Large Structure, connects city residents and organizations with ICANN processes.
  • ICANN - Provides technical oversight of the .nyc registry.
  • Public - Expresses its desires through the above entities.


Initial Inquiries

Prior to the initial meeting of the .NYC Advisory Board members were asked to submit questions they would like to see addressed  We provided the following.

  • The Internet is the dominant enabling force of our time. How well our city utilizes this technology might well determine the quality of life for residents and its competitive place among global cities in the coming decade. How are we ensuring that .nyc maximizes benefits for our city as compared to other TLD cities? That is, how is .nyc better than .berlin, .paris, .barcelona, etc? (See TLD Cities map.)
  • How are we ensuring that this is a sustainable TLD? That good names are reused and not hoarded? That they are available for our children and their children? (See sustainable.nyc.)
  • What is the process by which reserved names are identified, selected, and allocated police.nyc, mayor.nyc, TimesSquare.nyc, etc.? (See city’s initial list at sidebar here.)
  • What is the process by which premium names are selected and allocated - news.nyc, sports.nyc, search.nyc, hotels.nyc, etc.? What civic responsibilities come with the names, e.g., must sports.nyc present links to the city’s high school and college sports?
  • Can revenue generated by the .nyc TLD be dedicated for digital development and divide issues rather than being put into the general fund?
  • What is the long term plan for governance of the TLD? The .NYC Advisory Board is for one year, what’s next?
  • What plans are afoot to create direct TLD jobs in the city - for registrars, for registries, etc?
  • What plans are there to encourage the offering of inexpensive third level domain names (third.second.nyc) to civic groups, students, small businesses, etc.?
  • What channels are being made available for the .NYC Advisory Board to connect with the public? Digital and otherwise?
  • What is the relationship of the .NYC Advisory Board with the contractor, DoITT and other TLD related entities?
  • What processes are being implemented to tie city operations into the TLD? For example, assuring that domain names such as John-and-MaryDoe.marriage.license.nyc and  QueensPower.electric.license.nyc are made available.
  • What processes are being followed to assure that civic, institutional, and small business entities are appraised of the opportunity to select their domain names and have suitable time to respond? (See launch schedule timeline.)
  • How are existing entities going to select their “equivalent” domain names - thus Bob&Mary’sBoutique.nyc does not work with the DNS (the “&” and “ ‘ “ characters are not allowed)? How do they are they to be provided with an opportunity to select a resolvable name, e.g., BobandMarysBoutique.nyc.
  • How are  sensitive issues of community concern to be addressed: sex.nyc, nigg*r.nyc, childporn.nyc, f*ck.nyc, etc.? As a government controlled resource, are there first amendment implications?
  • The fundamental question of which TLD to apply for - .nyc or  .newyork - was settled with .nyc TLD. Has thought been given to applying for both as is being done in Barcelona?
  • Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid are following an allocation plan called Namespace Mandates. Does New York have something equivalent?
  • Will an anonymized access to the DNS Data Log be provided to developers as open data?
  • What city outreach channels will be made available for the .NYC Advisory Board to communicate with residents?
  • Where does the TLD fit within the planning of the Digital Roadmap?  

Additional Inquiries 

After providing these 19 inquiries, other questions arose. 
  • What is the governance structure and process within which the .NYC Advisory Board operates? (See preliminary thoughts above in Organization Structure sidebar.) 
  • What opportunities does name leasing present?
  • The standard TLD metric is number of domain names sold. That is, the greater the number of domain names sold, the more profitable the endeavor and successful the TLD. What metric is appropriate for a city-TLD? We've opined that economic development and quality of life measures provide the appropriate metric. 
  • What Public Interest Commitments are being considered for the operation of the .nyc TLD?
























The meeting began at 8 AM in City Hall's Outer Ceremonial Room. This report was prepared from the notes of Thomas Lowenhaupt, a member of the .NYC Advisory Board. [Notes, Questions, and Comments raised subsequent to the meeting are presented in brackets.]

Meeting Report

  • Member Introductions - Three new members to the board introduced themselves: representing small business interests were Seth Taylor of the 82nd Street Partnership (a BID or Business Improvement District) located in the Jackson Heights and Corona in Queens, Lorell Brown of the Jamaica Center BID, and Angelina Ramirez of the Washington Heights BID. All had been recommended by the city's Small Business Department. Anthony Townsend arrived in Newark Airport on a 7:45 AM red eye and was unable to attend. Members Noel Hidalgo, Jessica Lawrence, and Georgia Bullen attended via conference call. Others in attendance were Rachel Haot, the city's Chief Digital Officer, Grace Cheung, an associate, and Ken Hansen, of NeuStar, Inc., the project contractor. A representative from a Council Member's office walked in thinking it was a public meeting, and was informed that it was not and he would not be permitted to attend. (See more Board Member info in sidebar.)

  • The next agenda item was a Q & A, with Rachel Hoat answering some questions previously raised.
    • What happens to trademark name holders without a New York City Address? If an applicant does not have a city address, they do not have the right to register the .nyc name during the Sunrise Period or any other registration phases. If someone registers a trademarked name during any registration phase, a "Notification" is sent to the registrant from the Trademark Clearinghouse asserting to the existence of the trademark. If the registrant plans on using the name in another industry, for example, if the registrant plans on using intel.nyc for a coffee house, and not to sell computers, they could register the name. If a trademark holder feels there is a violation, recourse is available through a UDRP process (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Process) and a new Uniform Rapid Suspension Policy. This later process facilitates taking down (removing) a name in days or weeks, not the months it takes via UDRP. A discussion revealed that as Amazon and Intel don't have a presence in the city, they will not be able to register those names.
      • Addendum: A post publication contribution from Joly MacFie of the Internet Society of New York provided the following link showing a substantial Amazon presence in New York City - http://commercialobserver.com/2012/06/amazon-grabs-another-suite-at-1350-avenue-of-the-americas/.
    • What is Bona Fide Presence? Emerging from the trademark discussion was the question about the current Nexus Policy, particularly section 6.(b)(ii)(B), that declares that those purchasing a name must have a "bonafide presence" in the city, and that merely selling products to city residents provides suitable bonafides. It was noted that in the world of the Internet, every website offering a product or service for sale to New Yorkers qualifies as having a bonafide presence, and may purchase a .nyc domain name. Rachel indicated she is talking to NeuStar about improving nexus policy. Esther Dyson suggested that we require that something be "New York specific," made just for New York, to narrow the eligibility. 
    • Name Registration Auditing and Enforcement - A question was raised about the current contract clause that calls for 50 names to be audited per week. With thousands of names likely to be registered in the first hours of General Registration, was the small sampling for accountability adequate? The answer to this question was to be provided during the NeuStar presentation, but time precluded the opportunity.
    • Can we establish connections with other cities seeking TLDs? City-TLDs were not discussed at the city-hosted Digital Cities Symposium held this past May, as the "right people" were not in attendance. But Rachel indicated that she is now in touch with them and that their policies are "almost identical to ours." Paris and London were spoken to. No public engagement has been provided in those other contacted cities - we are ahead of the curve. Rachel reported that Ken has comparative information about what the other cities are doing. Ken noted that most city governments are not involved directly with developing their TLD's, but issued "letters of support" to independent developers. 
      • [Note: The suggestion for connecting with the other TLD cities was to share experiences. How are city government and the Advisory Board to engage with these cities?]
    • "Censorship" - Rachel noted that non U.S. cities have laws that allow them to refuse to register domain names that damage the reputation of their city - "Something we cannot do." She stated that we are limited to restricting names using the "7 dirty words" identified by the FCC. The potential for identifying "community standards," that might allow some reach beyond the 7-words, was suggested by Thomas Lowenhaupt. Rachel noted that the city's attorneys see the TLD as a "public square" foreclosing the possibility of limiting names. Maria Gotsch asked if NAZI.nyc would be sold. Rachel responded "Yes" noting that the First Amendment protects hate speech. Rachel noted that the "First Amendment limitations" provided the top concern when the city was deciding if it should apply the TLD. Esther suggested that user filters might be a solution. Not selling a name is considered censorship. Ken Hansen noted that "Shitakimushrooms.nyc" will not be sold as "shit" is in the name. Might a benefactor buy some offensive words, e.g., NAZI.nyc, and use them for civic purpose? Ken noted that words that "sound like" the 7 dirty words are on a reserved list.
      • [Question: How about a Kickstarter "Fund for a Civil City" to purchase and fallow, or use as education tools, objectionable names? ]  
      • [Question: What about using the Reserved List for hate and salacious names? If "SH1T," with a one (1) replacing the i, can be on a "looks like" Reserved List, why not NAZI.nyc? Section 2.6 of the Registry agreement provides for such action.]
    • What happens if someone uses a .nyc name to redirect someone to a non New York site? It is OK for an eligible entity to redirect a user from one domain name to another. 
    • What about local registrars? According to ICANN rules, NeuStar must provide all registrars with equal access to sell .nyc names. Ken has had discussions with existing local companies interested in becoming registrars. Some have indicated an intent to hire new staff for this task. Becoming a reseller for a accredited registrar is relatively easy - It can be done in an hour. Those who are ISPs, sell hosting, do web design, or have a large customer base in New York are good candidates for being registrars.
      • [Question: Does this provide an opportunity for developing local small businesses? Might NeuStar facilitate information and training sessions for prospective registrars?]
    • How will non English domain names be handled? For now only ASCII (Roman) names will be allowed. Others character sets - Arabic, Chinese... - might be used in the future.
    • Are sub (third level) domains allowed? Yes, anyone with a second level domain name may create a third (or fourth...) level name. But can non-city entities not conforming to our Nexus Policy use these sub domains? It was suggested that an additional check box be added to the registration process that says "I agree only to sell 3rd level names to those meeting the city's Nexus policy" and thereby have 3rd level names inherit the nexus policy.
  • Presentation by Ken Hansen of NeuStar
    • (Georgia Bullen, voice conferencing in, requested that the presentation slides be shared with all board members. Rachel indicated that she'd confirm with Ken and send them.)
    • NeuStar's corporate genesis was North American Numbering Plan. 1,600 employees. $900 million revenue. Operates .biz TLD. Back-end provider for .co, .tel and other TLDs.
    • Current Name Registration Plan
      • Phase 1, Pre-Authentication - Names to be issued to government, licensees of city, city-affiliated nonprofits, city digital start-ups.
        • A code number will be issued to those passing "pre-authentication" by the city (the entity issuing the codes was not identified), with this code entered when purchasing a domain name from a registrar.
        • City affiliated entities are to get .nyc names that are an "exact match only." Not the d/b/a, but the exact name of incorporation. There will be exceptions for ampersand, hyphen, spaces and no requirement to include Corp. or Inc.
        • Seth Taylor noted that his organization is formally the 82nd Street District Managers Association. Ken said this must be used. Rachel noted that in General Registration Seth could seek out a better name.
      • Phase 2, City Affiliated - Sunrise period enabling trademarked  companies with a NY Nexus to select their names.
      • Phase 3, Landrush - Provides existing city businesses and nonprofit organizations to select their names. In instances where there's more than one bidder for a name, an auction will determine the winner.
      • Phase 4 - The General Registration is the ongoing state of operation, like today's .com - if a name is available, it's yours.
    • Changes to Plan
      • In Phase 1 the city will be unable to use the Department of Finance's database of city affiliated firms. As per Rachel, the city's attorneys did not undertake due diligence and only realized recently that, as it contains EIN numbers, the city will be unable to use Finance's database. Two alternatives were presented: Develop a work around by building an API - but Rachel noted the city does not have the resources for that. Alternately, registration of small businesses would be moved to a later registration phase. Rachel noted that as it is "Not feasible to do" city affiliated entities during Phase 1, they want everyone's input on alternatives. Georgia inquired about the Pluto Database and business names: Would that be helpful in a workaround? Answer, No. Jeff Ferzoko noted that a hack night event might be able to make some headway on this. On a positive note, Ken stated that this may serve to level the playing field moving bu moving the previously privileged city-affiliated entities to the Phase 3 Landrush.
      • Ken noted that ICANN is requiring that those holding trademarks be provided with a first dibs on picking names, that a "Sunrise" registration period be completed before any other phases. He emphasized that this requirement is "not likely to change."
        • [Question: Trademarks come before city needs! So the firearms company "Police," holder of a trademark, would be able to register police.nyc rather than the NYPD? And the Progressive Brands tobacco company would be able to register mayor.nyc as it holds the trademark for the mayor cigar brand? See section 2.3.1 of the Rights Protection Mechanism draft for more on this.
        • [Note: Sharing the Reserved Name protocols with the Advisory Board might enable a better understanding of this issue.]
        • [Question: How does this comport with section Specification 5, section 3.2, of the Registry Operator Agreement which states "Operator may activate in the DNS at All Levels up to one hundred (100) names (plus their IDN variants, where applicable) necessary for the operation or the promotion of the TLD."?]
        • [Note: Even this moderate 100 name concession to cities is being opposed by the trademark industry. See these comments of MarkMonitor. August 27 is deadline for filing comments on this with ICANN.]
        • [Note: Imagine the city agrees to this trademark "Sunrise" preference scenario. The first person to use the mayor.nyc domain name would be... a cigar? See below graphic.]
      • Name Collision - A recent report to ICANN suggested that certain names present the possibility of "name collisions" that would threaten the Net's security and stability. Three categories of names susceptible to collision were identified. Two names were in a "High Risk" category, .home and .corp, and processing these applications has been halted. A second group of 1,100 "Low Risk" names will proceed. And 220 "Uncalculated Risk" names, including the .nyc TLD, are to be the subject of a new study. ICANN is currently taking comments on the scope of the study. Ken noted that this is likely to result in at least a 3 month delay, but more likely 6-8 months. 
      • Nexus Enforcement Changes - Registrars, the domain name resellers, generally resist selling TLDs that require much development on their part - they want easy to sell products. But because of concern about weakness of the city's Nexus Policy, a change is being considered: Requiring registrants to enter a New York City zip code upon submitting a request for a .nyc name. It was suggested that this will bolster Nexus Policy compliance. Esther stated that we should not be too concerned about a frictionless registration process. Some bumps are OK. Quality not quantity is the desired end. And perhaps an outsourced entity, Amazon's Mechanical Turk, the FedEx System, or a Google search might be used to verify that name purchasers have a New York presence. And if it takes three days to achieve this, so be it. Location verification is not rocket science and registrars should be required to do this. Ken noted that this is the path they are going down but opined that checking the address is difficult. But at the minimum they will be requiring entering a zip code. Jeff noted that geo-location should be possible. Esther emphasized that the whole value of a .nyc domain name was that you, as a New York City company, would not have to compete with a bunch of riffraff as found in other TLDs. Ken said "We will require the address be included. And we will check the zip code." 
        • [Comment: It takes a 10 second search to locate a New York City address and zip code. This leaves a crack that tens of thousands of squatters, spammers, phishers and other Internet undesirables will slip through. Speculators are unlikely to be put off by this zip approach. Additional application audits - well beyond the 50 applications per week - offers one possible solution. An effective Nexus Policy, defining who is a New Yorker and entitled to use our names, has yet to be completed.]
  • Listening Session - The agenda item on public engagement was not addressed due to time limitations. 
    • [Comment: I was hoping to discuss the applicability of classic Technology Assessment, some combination of expert/participatory under the circumstances.]
The meeting ended at 9 AM.

Observations & Conclusions

Coming out of this meeting Thomas was somewhat more sanguine about the future of our city's TLD than during the initial meeting for two reasons.

    • Breathing Space - The expected delay caused by the "Name Collision Study" should provide additional time for the Advisory Board to look into the proposed name distribution phases and the impact the TLD will have on city residents and organizations.
    • New Members - 3 new members were added to the board, adding important new perspectives, particularly for small business and the city's BIDS.

Some of the news was disturbing.

    • Diminished Small Business Opportunities - The ICANN's action giving first dibs to trademark holders might diminish the utility of the TLD. By some reports there are 25 million trademarks globally. How many of these might qualify under the Nexus Policy and choose to purchase .nyc domain names is unknown. But if historic identity names, for example, the corona.nyc and rugby.nyc names, are given to trademark holders instead of being used to bolster civic and community life in those neighborhoods, it will represent a taking that will diminish the city's quality of life.
    • Culture Clash - The fundamental problem Thomas noted at this meeting (bolstered by a decade of encounters with the TLD industry), was a culture clash between the industry's perspective on the role of a TLD vs. that of a city denizens. NeuStar, Verisign and the other first generation DNS service firms center their engineering skills on efficiently selling names and making a profit thereby. That's their business. That the city had allocated resources, and that 11 Advisory Board members had gathered to discern how to fashion a TLD to create a better city, was not seen by the contractors as the driving force behind the endeavor. Rather, removing friction from the sign up process was. The traditional TLD industry does not understand that to a city, a TLD is just another tool to amplify the city's role of connecting people and resources. 
    Opportunity also presented itself. In the discussion of 'nazi.nyc' the prospect of a crowdsourced fund to retire, or positively direct, the use of certain names was raised.

    Related Pages

    Key .nyc Links