The Independent Objector for ICANN’s new gTLD program has given a preliminary nod to applications for .sex, .gay, .wtf and six other potentially “controversial” applied-for strings.
Alain Pellet this week told applicants for these gTLDs that he does not expect to file objections against their bids, despite an outpouring of public comments against them.
The strings given the okay are .adult, .gay, .hot, .lgbt, persiangulf, .porn .sex .sexy, and .wtf.
A total of 15 applications have been submitted for these strings. Some, such as .gay with four applicants, are contested. Others, such as .wtf and .porn, are not.
The IO is limited to filing objections on two rather tightly controlled grounds: Limited Public Interest (where the bid would violate international law) and Community (where a community would be disenfranchised).
For each of the nine strings, Pellet has decided that neither type of objection is warranted.
In his preliminary finding on .gay and .lgbt, he also noted that to file an objection “could be held incompatible with the obligation of States not to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity which is emerging as a norm”.
As part of a lengthy analysis of the international legal position on homosexuality, De Pellet wrote:
even though the IO acknowledges that homosexuality can be perceived as immoral in some States, there is no legal norm that would transcribe such a value judgment at the international level. Thus, the position of certain communities on the issue is not relevant in respect to the IO’s possibility to object to an application on the limited public interest ground.
For the porn-related applications, Pellet noted that any bid for a gTLD promoting child abuse material would certainly be objected to, but that ICANN has received no such application.
On .wtf, which received many public comments because it’s an acronym including profanity, Pellet observed that freedom of expression is sacred under international law.
He regarded the problem of excessive defensive registrations — as raised by the Australian government in the recent wave of Governmental Advisory Committee early warnings — is outside his remit.
Pellet’s findings, which I think will be welcomed by most parts of the ICANN community, are not unexpected.
Limited Public Interest Objection, originally known as the Morality and Public Order Objection, had been put forward in the wake of the approval of .xxx in 2010 as a way for governments to bring their national laws to bear on the DNS.
But it was painstakingly defanged by the Generic Names Supporting Organization in order to make it almost impossible for it to be used as a way to curb civil rights.
The GAC instead shifted its efforts to the GAC Advice on New gTLDs objection, which enables individual governments to submit objections vicariously based on their own national interest.
Pellet’s findings — which are preliminary but seem very unlikely to be reversed — can be read in full on his web site.
The Iranian government has filed late Early Warnings against 29 new gTLD applications, mostly on the basis that the applied-for strings are un-Islamic and “unethical”.
Bids for .gay, .sex, .wine, .bet, .poker and others relating to sexuality, alcohol and gambling are “in conflict with ethical standards” in Iran, according to the submissions.
We understand that problems obtaining visas for ICANN’s meeting in Toronto this October may have been blamed for the delay.
The initial batch of Early Warnings for the most part overlooked “moral” problems with gTLD strings, focusing far more on consumer protection, defensive registration costs and geographic sensitivities.
Not so with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is much more concerned about words it believes promote anti-Islamic behavior or represent Islamic concepts without the required community support.
The government says in its opposition to .gay, for example, that the gTLD would be responsible for:
Agitation and irritation of the humanity and faith; and spread of hatred and hostility in the society.
Encourage people to perform non-religious, Unethical and Non-rational actions in the society.
Encourage people on doing unlawful actions according to Islam religion in the society.
Getting away society from healthy environment for doing daily activities.
Several other Early Warnings use the same or similar language. Iran suggests that the applicants could remedy the problem by banning registration in Islamic nations.
Not all of its warnings are related to sex, drink and gambling, however.
It’s also objected to .krd, which has been applied for to represent the Kurdish community in the region, saying it could “raise serious political conflicts” and lacks support.
The .eco applicants have also been hit with warnings on the grounds that ECO is an acronym for the Economic Cooperation Organization, a regional intergovernmental organization focused on trade.
ECO meets the criteria for IGOs to register .int domains, according to Iran, which is the GAC’s current proposed method of creating a list of protected second-level domain names for IGOs.
The full list of Iran’s objections is published here.
The CEO of SX Registry has denied rumors that the company already plans to object to the two .sex new gTLD applications, but has not yet ruled out such a move.
The company runs Sint Maarten’s new ccTLD, .sx, and gossip at the ICANN meeting in Prague last month suggested that an objection or two against .sex might be made on confusing similarity grounds.
The rumors were fueled in part by SX Registry’s sexy launch marketing.
But in a recent email to DI, Normand Fortier wrote:
At this time SX Registry is still reviewing the impact of various gTLD applications and contrary to some published rumors, has not taken any official position or decision regarding a future course of action.
Existing ccTLD operators are allowed to file String Confusion Objections against gTLD applications, if they feel there’s a risk of confusion if the gTLD is approved.
And .sx/.sex is far from a unique case.
In fact, of the 375 applications for three-letter gTLDs in the first round, 304 have only one character variance with one or more existing ccTLDs, according to DI PRO’s string similarity analysis.
ICANN’s Sword algorithm, which compares the visual similarity of strings, gives .sex a score of 57% against .sx.
I’ve checked every three-character gTLD application against every existing ccTLD and found dozens of proposed gTLDs with much higher similarity scores when compared to ccTLD strings.
The full results are available to DI PRO subscribers over here.
Morality In Media, one of the groups that fought the approval of .xxx for years, has launched a letter-writing campaign against the proposed .sex, .porn and .adult top-level domains.
ICANN has received a couple dozen comments of objection to the three gTLDs over the last couple of days, apparently due to this call-to-arms.
Expect more. MIM was one of the main religion-based objectors to .xxx, responsible for crapflooding ICANN with thousands of comments in the years before the gTLD was approved.
Now that .xxx has turned out to be less successful than ICM Registry hoped, MIM feels its key belief on the subject — that porn gTLDs lead to more porn — has been vindicated.
MIM president Patrick Trueman wrote in one of his comments:
During the years of this fight against the .xxx domain, we said many times that the establishment of a .xxx domain would increase, not decrease the spread of pornography on the Internet, causing even more harm to children, families and communities, and make ICANN complicit in that harm.
That prediction has been fulfilled because the porn sites on the .com domain have not vacated the .com and moved to .xxx. Rather, as we have seen, the .xxx has just added thousand of additional porn sites on the Internet and .com porn sites stayed put. ICANN bears responsibility for this. The .xxx was not needed.
For some reason, the complaints are only leveled at the three ICM Registry subsidiaries that are applying for porn-themed gTLDs, and not the other .sex applicant.
Uniregistry’s application for .sexy has not been targeted.
And MIM has apparently not read the applications it is complaining about; its call to action complains about non-porn companies having to pay “protection money” to defensively register in .sex.
However, the three ICM bids explicitly contemplate an extensive grandfathering program under which all current defensive registrations in .xxx would be reserved in .sex, .porn and .adult.
In the occasional DI tradition of linkbaiting Domaining.com with promises of scantily clad eye candy, I humbly invite male readers to get their goggles around this beauty:
Anyway, there’s a serious point here.
SX Registry, which is in the process of launching the new .sx ccTLD for the recently formed territory of Sint Maarten, distributed this flyer in the goody bags at ICANN 44 in Prague last week.
The marketing was aimed at registrars, presumably, but the company’s web site has similar imagery as well.
It’s pretty clear what angle SX Registry is going for, and it could portend a clash with .sex and .sexy, which have both been proposed by applicants under ICANN’s new gTLD program.
ICM Registry (.sex), Uniregistry (.sexy) and Internet Marketing Solutions Limited (.sex) may have a potential objector on their hands.