The European Commission plans to build a massive web site and database of information related to global internet policy-making.
The Global Internet Policy Observatory, which is still in the planning stages, would be a “clearinghouse for monitoring Internet policy, regulatory and technological developments across the world”.
The idea appears to be to make it easier for people interested in this kind of thing to wade through information overload. According to a Commission press release, the site would:
- automatically monitor Internet-related policy developments at the global level, making full use of “big data” technologies;
- identify links between different fora and discussions, with the objective to overcome “policy silos”;
- help contextualise information, for example by collecting existing academic information on a specific topic, highlighting the historical and current position of the main actors on a particular issue, identifying the interests of different actors in various policy fields;
- identify policy trends, via quantitative and qualitative methods such as semantic and sentiment analysis;
- provide easy-to-use briefings and reports by incorporating modern visualisation techniques;
GIPO (I’m choosing to pronounce it with a hard G) could get underway in 2014, pending the results of a feasibility study, the Commission said.
Brazil, the African Union, Switzerland, the Association for Progressive Communication, Diplo Foundation and the Internet Society are also all involved in the project.
The companies handling Uniform Rapid Suspension domain name disputes will be bound to a contract, ICANN has said.
In a follow-up Q&A document (pdf) from the public forum session at the ICANN meeting in Beijing last month, posted Friday, ICANN said:
As regards Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) providers, will there be a contract developed that goes beyond the non-enforceable memorandum of understanding? Will there be other URS providers?
Yes, a contract is being developed and additional URS providers will be added.
That appears to be new information.
Domainers, and the Internet Commerce Association, which represents domainers, have long pressed for UDRP providers and, more recently, URS providers, to be bound by contracts.
The ICA, for example, has often said that no new UDRP providers should be approved until there’s a contractual way for ICANN to prevent mismanagement of disputes and “forum shopping”.
Soon, it seems, at least URS providers will have some contractual coverage.
The National Arbitration Forum and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre have already been approved as URS providers.
One of the only two companies to receive formal, consensus, kiss-of-death Governmental Advisory Committee advice last month has called on ICANN to reject it as “untimely”.
GCCIX WLL of Bahrain applied for .gcc to be an open gTLD for residents of the Persian/Arabian Gulf region.
It was a ballsy application. The intended meaning of the string was Gulf Cooperation Council — the six-state regional political union — but the applicant by its own admission had no support from local governments or the GCC itself.
It would be a little like applying for .eu, to represent Europe, with no support from the European Union.
Naturally enough, local governments balked. GCCIX received an Early Warning signed by Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, followed by a legal rights objection from the GCC itself.
And in Beijing, the GAC said by consensus that the application for .gcc should be rejected.
The only other application that received the same level of advice was DotConnectAfrica’s equally unsupported application for .africa which, unlike .gcc, ICANN recognizes as “geographic”.
Now, GCCIX CEO Fahad AlShirawi has written to ICANN to ask it to reject the GAC’s advice and let the legal rights objection process play out before making a decision.
Of note, AlShirawi points out that the GAC advice was received in April, a month later than the deadline outlined in the new gTLD program’s Applicant Guidebook.
ICANN should therefore reject the GAC advice as “untimely”, he wrote.
That’s not going to happen, of course.
The GAC is allowed to provide advice to ICANN at any time, no matter what the Guidebook says. If ICANN were to ignore it based on timing, it may as well sign its own death sentence at the same time.
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.
Directi appears to be the last man standing in the three-way tie-up for .online, following the latest new gTLD withdrawals.
Namecheap has dropped its .online application, closely following Tucows, which dropped its bid a couple of weeks ago.
The three companies announced a deal in March to see them cooperate to win the contested TLD, but at the time it wasn’t clear which applicants would pull out.
Directi’s bid (filed by DotOnline Inc under the Radix brand) remains. It has already passed Initial Evaluation, which may be part of the reason its application was chosen as the “winner”.
The gTLD is still contested, however. Directi is competing with Donuts, I-Registry and Dot Online LLC.
Separately today, a curious two-way dot-brand battle seems to have had its final twist, with Guardian Life Insurance’s withdrawal of its application for .guardianlife.
The insurance company and newspaper publisher Guardian News and Media had both applied for gTLDs containing the string “guardian”. There were originally five, but only two remain.
It now looks like Guardian News will get .theguardian, having previously conceded .guardian to its brand rival and dropping its bid for .guardianmedia.
It appears that there’s been more than a bit of strategic applying, and maybe some deal-making, here.
Neither remaining application is contested, and neither have objections. It’s likely that .guardian is captured by the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice against “closed generics”, however.