ICANN’s program to introduce new top-level domains has not been put at risk by the US government’s recent request for delay, according to both its chairman and chief executive.
Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush and CEO Rod Beckstrom sought to play down the significance of the Department of Commerce letter during a press conference here in Cartagena this afternoon.
Dengate Thrush said the sudden involvement of the US in the new TLD policy was not a surprise, but was “one more factor to take into account” that did not put the program as a whole at risk.
Beckstrom noted that the Commerce letter was submitted to the ongoing public comment period, and would be treated as such, saying “obviously along with other inputs received we will duly consider it”.
Dengate Thrush elaborated, saying ICANN was still considering how to formally respond to the letter.
Because it deals with both Affirmation of Commitments and AGB concerns, it appears that the two threads may be unpicked and dealt with separately.
Both men were obviously more coy about whether the US intervention could delay final approval of the Applicant Guidebook, which the ICANN board will vote on this Friday.
Currently, the plan is to open the first round of applications May 30. But it seems that’s a target, not a promise.
Observing that the AGB continues to stir up passions on both sides of the debate, Dengate Thrush said that it is unlikely that the board will be swayed either way by passion alone.
But if “getting it right” means adding a month or two of delay to the launch date of the program, then that’s what the board will have to do, he said.
A similar sentiment on the constructiveness of comments was put forward by outgoing director Harald Alvestrand during a session yesterday.
He indicated that comments that merely reiterate long-held and previously considered disagreements are unlikely to cause delays, but changed minds based on new information could carry weight.
With the comments of all three directors in mind, it’s probably a bit early to second-guess the board’s Friday decision.
Apparently they are being fed updates on new AGB comments as they are received, so they can be as informed as possible before convening.
My feeling is that a full picture of the decision the board faces is unlikely to emerge for a few days.