ICANN may kick .xxx into new gTLD round

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2010, 01:27:58 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN has chosen to deal with the controversial .xxx TLD application by leaving essentially all options, including urging it into the next gTLD round, wide open.

ICM Registry had pushed for a speedy resolution to its long-running application, following the Independent Review Panel decision that went in its favour last month, but it hasn’t got one.

In Nairobi, ICANN’s board asked ICANN’s staff to tell it what its options were for dealing with the ruling, and staff today responded with this flowchart. Oh, and this flowchart.

It seems that these options are still on the table:

  • ICANN could choose to agree with the IRP’s pro-ICANN minority decision entirely, and reject ICM’s application again. This will almost certainly result in a lawsuit.
  • If it chooses to accept the IRP ruling in whole or in part, ICANN could decide to process ICM’s application using the 2004 sponsored TLD criteria, the criteria under which ICM applied and was (arguably) accepted. If it chooses this path, ICANN also has the option to expedite the process.
  • Or, ICANN could decide to process ICM’s application under the “new gTLD criteria”. If it chooses this path, it could wait for the Draft Applicant Guidebook v4 to be completed, or select to “expedite” the process somehow.
  • Now comes the GAC bottleneck. Once ICANN has decided whether to process .xxx as a 2004 sTLD or a 2010 gTLD, it then has to decide which Governmental Advisory Committee advice to incorporate into its decision. Does it use the complacent “yeah, whatever” advice given prior to 2005, when a rejection seemed to the GAC like a certainty? Does it use 2007′s coded “kill this thing now” advice? Or does it seek new advice?
  • ICANN then has to decide whether to take this GAC advice, whatever it may be, or not.

Assuming, and it’s a big assumption, that ICANN wants rid of this issue, the path of least resistance seems, to me, to be:

  1. Accepting the IRP’s findings only insofar as they allow the .xxx approval process to continue. There’s no need for ICANN to make concessions it does not need to make, leaving itself open to future challenges. If ICM gets what it wants, it’s not going to nit-pick IRP rulings.
  2. Deciding to process the application under the 2004 criteria. While I suspect it may be flexible if it thinks it has a sure thing going, ICM has made it pretty clear it will not be happy being punted into the next new gTLD round. I’m also not convinced ICANN is capable of “expediting” anything, let alone a process that does not officially exist.
  3. Asking the GAC for its opinion. I can’t really believe that ICANN, having now put the option of pinging GAC for new advice back on the table, could decline to do so. The GAC and ICANN have a very different relationship now compared to three years ago.

That all said, these flowcharts give four ways for .xxx to die, and only one where it lives.

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Comments (4)

  1. Kenny D says:

    the reason they can’t get the .xxx tld approved is because they have no backing. The only people backing it are the ICM and a couple big registrars (the people who are looking to make money off of it). The people who are supposed to use the tld; adult webmasters are not interested in a new tld and are infact actively opposed to the whole .xxx concept.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      It certainly seems to be true that there is significant opposition to the idea of .xxx.

      But it looks like ICANN has found itself in a procedural tangle it will be impossible to escape from without annoying somebody. They just have to decide who.

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