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TLDH weighs in on “terrifying” GAC advice

Kevin Murphy, May 13, 2013, 08:42:56 (UTC), Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings is the latest portfolio applicant to slate the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice on new gTLDs, calling it “troubling in principle” and “terrifying in practice”.

The company, which applied directly for 70 gTLDs and is involved in several others, filed its comments on the “safeguard advice” in the GAC’s Beijing communique with ICANN today.

The comments focus mainly on the overarching issues of governmental power and process, rather than delve into the nitty-gritty implementation problems presented by the advice.

TLDH CEO Antony Van Couvering wrote:

The Communiqué’s prescriptions define the opposite of a well-regulated sector. Instead of a clear process in which all concerns are weighed, the Communiqué sets up an ad-hoc GAC process from which the views of applicants are excluded.

Instead of clear rules to which industry players must adhere, ill-defined categories have been set up that applicants have a hard time even to understand.

Instead of a clear authority on who will determine policy, the ICANN community must now wonder who is in charge.

The comment points to the fact that the GAC’s 2007 principles on new gTLDs state that applicants should have a clear, objective process to follow, and that Beijing undermines that principle.

It also puts forth the view that the GAC appears to be trying to create policy unilaterally, and in a top-down manner that doesn’t give the Generic Names Supporting Organization a role.

The GAC Beijing Communiqué as enunciated in Section IV.1.b [the safeguard advice] unilaterally expands the role of the GAC from an advisory committee, with a remit of providing advice on policy originating in the GNSO, into a policy-making body from which other members of the ICANN community are excluded.

TLDH also notes that some parts of the advice are “not in themselves bad ideas” and that the company has offered to adopt some of them already in the Public Interest Commitments appended to its applications.

It comments follow those from rival Demand Media, which questioned the feasibility of implementing the GAC’s advice, last week.

Separately, over the weekend, Medicus Mundi International Network — an organization of healthcare non-governmental organizations — filed comments saying that the GAC advice does not go far enough.

Rather, it said, ICANN should delay the introduction of .health until a “broad-based consultation of the health community” can be carried out and a “multi-stakeholder” governance model for it created.

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Comments (6)

  1. gpmgroup says:

    From the letter:

    “The Internet is too important to have decisions made by any authority other than that of broad consensus supported by empirical evidence.”

    Hmmm…. Like .xxx and vertical integration?

    Or with respect to ICANN’s current proposal for new gTLDs?

    Not sure there is a “broad consensus” outside ICANN and its would be contracted parties. ICANN didn’t seem to be very keen on providing any “empirical evidence” for their proposals.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      The new gTLD program received support from most non-contracted parties in the GNSO Council too. It wouldn’t be happening if it hadn’t.

  2. gpmgroup says:

    Wasn’t the new gTLD proposal pushed through (dispite expressions of serious reservation) just before the London School of Economics recommended restructuring of the GNSO to curtail the dominance of the contracted parties?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      It went through before the GNSO was restructured into its current form, yes, but that didn’t make a difference.

      Five contracted parties voted in favor (10 votes). Nine non-contracted parties voted in favor (9 votes).

      There was one vote against and three abstentions.

      If you remove the contracted parties from the equation you get a 9 – 1 vote in favor.

      Here’s the minutes of the meeting it was approved at:

      http://gnso.icann.org/en/meetings/minutes-gnso-06sep07.html

      Non-contracted parties in favor:

      Mike Rodenbaugh (BC), Bilal Beiram (BC), Ute Decker (IPC), Kristina Rosette (IPC), Tony Harris (ISCPC), Greg Ruth (ISCPC), Avri Doria (NomCom), Jon Bing (NomCom), Sophia Bekele (NomCom)

      Contracted parties in favor: Tom Keller, Adrian Kinderis, Cary Karp, Edmon Chung, Chuck Gomes

      Total number of votes in favor: 19

      Vote against:

      Robin Gross (NCUC).

      Abstained:

      Cyril Chua (IPC), Norbert Klein (NCUC), Mawaki Chango (NCUC)

      If you read the comments from the NCUC people, they voted the way they did because they thought the program was not liberal enough with respect to free speech rights, not because they disapproved of the program.

      • gpmgroup says:

        Thanks for the link. Time flies 🙂

        Some of the non-contracted parties were “would be” contracted parties.

        Contracted + “would be” contracted meant there was little, if any chance that the vote would not pass.

        There were many ways ICANN could have approached new gTLDs which would have served the public interest much better. Instead it chose a program that would benefit contracted and “would be contracted” parties over the wider public good, which is why we are in the situation we are today with the GAC trying to redress some of the most blatant inequities.

        The lack of serving the wider public good may also have been some of the reasoning behind the abstentions and vote against.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          I’m just going by what they said, and they (non-commercials) said they were in favor of new gTLDs.

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