• The Paris Understanding

last modified January 17, 2012 by tomlowenhaupt

In June 2008, shortly after the ICANN adopted its New gTLD Policy at its 32nd Meeting in Paris, city TLD advocates and developers from Barcelona, Berlin, New York City, and Paris met and discussed the advantages that would arise from cooperative TLD development efforts. This page presents the working draft of what is known as the Paris Understanding.

 Exciting but Incomplete


(Commons photo of Statue of Liberty test assembly in Paris. From the NYPL collection.)

 Status & Thoughts

The above photo of the Statue of Liberty, shown in its test assembly in Paris in 1883, aptly summarizes the status of the Paris Understanding - essentially completed, but not yet in its symbolic home.

While it was conceived in Paris in June 2008, with significant drafting taking place in Geneva in July 2008, it remains an "Understanding" in name only as key global cities have set about to independently develop their TLDs.

A few commonly offered notions of why progress has stalled include obfuscation by commercial contractors as to the role of city TLDs, a lack of knowledge by cities as to TLD's role as digital infrastructure, and a lack of leadership by ICANN.

Perhaps January 1, 2010 should restart the Paris Understanding's finalization and adoption. A worthy goal for the New Year. 

Tom Lowenhaupt














































      - draft -  

Meeting in Paris, on this 26th day of June in the year 2008,


...  that cities are among humankind's most complex creations;

...  that people's lives are, for the most part, lived locally and in contact with their immediate neighbors;

...  that people's daily local interactions for commerce and governance are of more frequent and immediate impact than those with more distant regional, national, and global entities;

...  that for the first time in history, cities now house more than one-half of the world's population;

...  that cities provide a localized framework for interventions to reduce and reverse the threat to economic and social order posed by today’s environmental problems;

...  that the introduction of broadly transformational technologies, as for example was experienced through the introduction of the automobile, can have far reaching and unforeseen consequences in the absence of civic careful mindfulness;

that cities’ relative standing in the world-system of places is thus increasingly likely to reflect their importance as nodes for world commerce and business rather than reflecting the geopolitical status of the nation in which they are situated;

Sharing a recognition:

...  that the Internet to date has been a fundamentally globalizing (that is de-localizing) technology,

...  that the Internet's global reach has substituted global and electronic activities for local (and physically embedded) ones;

...  that the Internet is causing a growing invisibility of city as a primary locale within which a range of social, cultural, commercial, and political activities are enacted;

Recognizing finally:

...  that the Internet provides innumerable opportunities to change social, political, and economic patterns of activity,

...  that there are fundamental contributions towards creating more livable and sustainable cities that can arise with the thoughtful introduction of Top Level Domains into the workings of cities,

...  that each domain name is a unique resource,

...  that there is a fundamental need for cities to develop their image on the Internet,

...  that city identities are vital to tourism and the general business environment, and to the pride and morale of the residents,

...  that it is in the public interest of cities that they assure the long term preservation of the TLD as a symbol of a city's character, and

that the public should participate in a city TLD’s design and development.


...  the ICANN authorized a New TLD Program on June 26, 2008,

...  the ICANN's action enables cities to acquire TLDs for the first time, and therefore

...  the long effort of cities to create opportunities for manageable electronic spaces for themselves on the Internet now verges on success.


Understanding that the introduction of city TLDs will be transformational, we, the founding developers of the initial dotCities - Berlin, New York, Paris and Barcelona - have come together to commit to a framework to better the operation of our TLDs, the Internet, our cities, and most importantly, the lives of their peoples.

We understand that framework to include:

City-TLDs shall serve the public interest through policies that advance the following:

  • A New Proximity - While the Internet excels by connecting on a global scale, city-TLDs shall use name spaces to facilitate geographic awareness, local issue discussions, and the creation of “opportunity spaces” where residents locate one another, optimizing the exchange of services, products, and ideas and thereby revivifying the traditional networking role of cities.

  • Civic Collaboration Tools – The dotCities shall facilitate the New Proximity by making calendars, maps, listserves, polling, and other organizing tools available for civic benefit on a public access basis.

  • Name Space Development - With improved community a key part of their mission, city-TLDs shall allocate names for the civic benefit of neighborhoods, activities, and issues, for example, "mayor.nyc" or "sante.paris." dotCities shall establish allocation policies that avoid domain name pitfalls such as hoarding and typo-squatting using price and nexus requirements. They shall reserve domain names for unbiased public interest portals for government, civic, and issue usage. Committed to their cities long-term enhancement, the dotCities shall provide affordable names for the young entering the business world, for the community and civic worlds, for immigrant populations, small businesses, and for use in the public realm.

  • Secure Name Space - With a focus on a limited and fixed geographic area and a requirement of local bona fides for acquiring a city domain name, and working in close cooperation with the extant local institutions, dotCity TLD operators shall work towards a secure experience suitable for their residents, their businesses, and their visitors.

  • Unbiased Portals - A public interest TLD shall create portals of selected second level domain names such as hotels.nyc and taxi.paris, that make city resources more accessible.

  • Shrink Digital Divide - City-TLDs shall commit a significant portion of their resources to facilitate the provision of civic collaboration tools, education, training and eradicating digital divides.

Additionally, we understand the best interests of our cities will be served if:

  • we build a strong network of city-TLD members, develop policies, services and products that meet the city’s needs and demands and become a major source of information, knowledge and experience on city-TLDs for the exchange with third parties.

  • we support the conceptualizing of the city-TLD development within a broad "urbanism" multi-stakeholder framework that considers their geographic, economic, political, social and cultural impact on our cities’ environment;

  • we commit to working in the closest possible collaboration with relevant local and respective national public authorities;

  • we commit to engaging all segments of the population in the management of our respective TLDs;

  • we commit to develop appropriate means for inter-city sharing of vital Internet enabled city resources in areas such as health, education, and safety;

  • we commit to the allocation of name spaces that promote sustainable cities;

  • we commit to share best design and management practices and to develop and promote policies and positions on key issues between our dotCities;

  • we commit to the usage of graphic design practices that facilitate cross cultural understanding;

  • we commit to support the city’s branding and other internal and external promotion activities of our cities;

  • we will disseminate information through publications, events and information technologies on the evolution of city-TLDs all over the world; and

  • we will collaborate on experimental name space allocation plans that facilitate shared name usage for civic, community, and issues. For example, developing reusable public access name bank that facilitates a time-based allocation of names like save-this-tree.nyc.

Key .nyc Pages