ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee may delay the approval of new gTLDs if applicants don’t submit Public Interest Commitments tomorrow.
That’s the message coming out of ICANN today, on the eve of the deadline for PICs submission set less than one month ago.
PICs, you will recall, are binding, enforceable commitments that new gTLD applicants are able to voluntarily add to their registry contracts with ICANN.
They’re meant to satisfy the GAC’s request for ICANN to tighten its grip on new gTLD registries and to give applicants a way to avoid GAC Advice and formal objections against their bids.
Applicants that commit to do whatever was asked of them in GAC Early Warnings, for example, may be able to avoid having the warning mutate into a full-blown GAC Advice kiss of death.
When ICANN announced the PICs idea a month ago, it gave applicants until March 5 to submit them. It intends to publish them on Wednesday for public comment and the GAC’s perusal.
But applicants are understandably nervous (to put it mildly) to comply, given that PICs would be enforceable via a dispute process that has yet to be written but could put their contracts at risk.
Responding to these concerns during a conference call today, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade urged applicants to hit the deadline or risk the GAC delaying its Advice discussions beyond Beijing.
“I don’t think we can delay the submission of the PICs,” Chehade said. “If we do, then we will definitely not have the GAC come back to use with their committed advice in Beijing.”
“Unless we want to get them to do this advice beyond Beijing, we should stick with the 30 days or so we’ve asked people to get this done and make it happen,” he said.
The Beijing meeting runs April 7 to 11. The GAC is expected to issue its advice shortly after the meeting ends.
ICANN reckons it will be able to start approving new gTLDs April 23, but has also stated on numerous occasions that it will not approve anything before the GAC has spoken.
Chehade said today, based on his conversations with influential GAC members, that pushing the PICs deadline out beyond March 5 by even a few days would seriously endanger the current GAC Advice timeline.
New gTLD applicants are now in the tricky position of having to decide between potentially costly delays today and an unknown dispute system that could prove dangerous in future.