ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee have yet to reach agreement on when and how governments should be able to block top-level domains deemed too controversial to go live.
In its latest advice to ICANN’s board (pdf), the GAC gets a bit sniffy in response to calls for it to be more transparent about how such objections are raised.
The Applicant Guidebook currently requires ICANN to take GAC objections to TLD applications seriously, but only if the GAC reveals which nation(s) objected and why.
The GAC, predictably, seems to think ICANN is trying to undermine its authority. At the very least, it doesn’t like being told what to do:
The GAC advises the Board that the current text in Module 3 that seemingly dictates to the GAC how to develop consensus advice is problematic and should be deleted, as it is inconsistent with the ICANN Bylaws and the GAC’s Operating Principles.
The GAC has offered to refine its procedures to make “consensus advice” a more meaningful term, such as by adopting the UN’s definition of consensus, however.
Some believe that giving the GAC a carte blanche to file objections from its opaque decision-making black box will lead to back-room horse-trading.
You might find a bloc of theocratic nations, for example, refusing to agree to an objection to .nazi (an improbable application, admittedly) unless other governments agree to object to .gay.
And some observers in the west don’t trust their own governments to stand up for their principles and resist this kind of deal-making, particularly when there’s no transparency into the process.
The GAC, meanwhile, does not think the objections process has been sufficiently squared away for it to agree to it. It wrote:
The GAC strongly believes that further discussions are needed between the GAC and the ICANN Board to find a mutually agreed and understandable formulation for the communication of actionable GAC consensus advice regarding proposed new gTLD strings.
ICANN is due to publish the seventh (and “final”) draft of its Guidebook tonight. Its board is due to meet with the GAC next June 19, one day before it plans to vote on the program.