ICANN has not completely ruled out the possibility that its new generic top-level domains program will be delayed, according to senior vice president Kurt Pritz.
Pritz was asked during a meeting of the GNSO Council last week whether the recent Congressional hearings into new gTLDs could lead to a delay of the January 12 launch.
“I think the risk is above zero,” Pritz said.
An “above zero” risk of delay could still mean a very small risk, of course.
He went on to point out that “the reputation of the multi-stakeholder model is wrapped up in this too”, and that to delay would be a disservice to all the people who have worked on the program.
He noted that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration assistant secretary Larry Strickling has come out in strong support of the multi-stakeholder model.
While the NTIA does not plan to enforce a delay, ICANN itself could make the decision under political pressure from elsewhere in the US, such as from Congress or the Federal Trade Commission.
Pritz faced a rough ride during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing last week, during which a number of Congressmen said they believed delay was appropriate.
The committee was largely concerned about the possible costs to trademark holders and implications for law enforcement agencies.
The hearing was called following lobbying by the Association of National Advertisers and the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.