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Governance Council owe their existence to Internet expansion efforts that began years ago. In 2005, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began studying whether to introduce new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Until this point, top-level domains on the Internet were relatively few, but this process, if adopted, would be a revolutionary expansion. Three years later, the ICANN Board agreed, and a multi-year process ensued whereby the implementation sought public input and addressed various stakeholder concerns. In 2011, the Applicant Guidebook was approved, laying the foundation for potentially thousands of new gTLDs beginning as early as 2013.

ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook stipulated that applicants could apply for new gTLDs that represent a private brand (i.e. .Coke), a geography (i.e. .California), a community (i.e. .lawyers), or a generic concept (i.e. .love). There were provisions to protect trademarks and others to protect communities. ICANN indicated that it would give preference to gTLD applications from consortia formed to represent particular communities.

In order to preserve the integrity and independence of each Governance Council, each Governance Council Board of Directors shall operate under a self-governance model. Supported by an independent management company, which exists to facilitate meetings and provide assistance, the Board remains free to conduct itself as it sees fit, subject to its bylaws.

Governance Council aim to represent all stakeholders of their TLD community. They do not dictate which domains may exist in a TLD, nor which content shall be deemed permissible. However, they do monitor, advise, and recommend best practices in the following areas:

  • Abuse Prevention and Mitigation (APM) Seal Reporting System – An APM reporting website contains a clear description and instructions that provide the inquiring party with guidance on how it can report infringement. The Governance Council Board will liaise with relevant international governmental organizations, ensure that all relevant industry bodies’ reporting systems are included within the system, and advise on further reporting and mitigation functions that should be included
  • Intellectual Property Rights Protection – The Board will be responsible for recommending adequate mechanisms to protect intellectual property
  • Best Practices – The Board shall discuss, identify, and recommend best practices, including but not limited to dispute resolution or definition of industry terms and categories
  • TLD Rules – The Board may recommend rules, limitations, or added value propositions for its TLD community
  • Reserved Domains – The Board may recommend reservation of certain second-level domains for various industry purposes and initiatives
  • Certification or Authentication – The Board may recommend the creation of certification programs or authentication procedures that allow its TLD to officially sanction or approve of certain activities or content
  • Adhere to ICANN Rules and Governance Council Bylaws – It is important to note that all Governance Council and Board activity is subject to the operating guidelines agreed with ICANN and the Governance Council’s own bylaws

For further information about Governance Council, visit www.governancecouncils.com