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GAC, Inside Out: When GAC Members Abuse ICANN Procedures…

This post was  first Published by CircleID on behalf of the author who has requested to remain anonymous.

There is no doubt that the new gTLD program has been the most encouraging revolutionary program in the history of internet.

As everybody expected, there have been lots of positive and negative insights about this program in recent years and during the process of development of the program, pushing ICANN to be very conservative in its program in order to satisfy all internet stakeholders.

A very tangible result of this conservation can be seen in the gTLD Applicant Guidebook (AGB), in which 2 out of 5 modules of the guidebook describe the objection and string confusion procedures (module 3 and 4). As mentioned by ICANN, The objection process is intended to afford businesses, individuals, governmental entities and communities an opportunity to advance arguments against introducing certain new gTLDs into the domain name system.

In module 3, ICANN has considered two types of mechanisms that may affect an application:

  1. The procedure by which ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee may provide GAC Advice on New gTLDs to the ICANN Board of Directors concerning a specific application.
  2. The dispute resolution procedure triggered by a formal objection to an application by a third party.

In addition there have been several public comment and feedback systems designed as a mechanism to listen to the public voice.

On the same concept, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) had a similar but formal feedback opportunity, the GAC Early Warnings, in which governments had the opportunity to formally send the negative comments on applications triggering the applicants to withdraw their applications.

ICANN did also provide the Independent Objector (IO) function, as one fundamental components of the objection process. Acting solely in the best interests of global Internet users, the Independent Objector could lodge objections in cases where no other objection has been filed.

But it is not the end of the story. ICANN has also done more favors to specific stakeholders by funding for objection filling fees for the At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and governmental entities, remaining no question about its commitment to the public sensitivity regarding its new gTLD Program.

All of the above mentioned activities have been a response to the fact that the new gTLD program has a special sensitivity, and of course all have been wise actions done by ICANN in this regards. But the question is that “How much control has ICANN on the misuse of its objection mechanisms?”

The fact is that some GAC members are using (let’s say misusing) all different objection processes which is designed for the usage of different stakeholders, as a mean in the hand of their government to stop specific applications. There are several cases where a specific government has used the Public Comment System, GAC Early Warning, Formal Objection, the Independent Objector (indirect motivation through public comments) and finally the GAC Advice, to stop specific applications. Governments like Brazil (against .AMAZON), Argentina (against .PATAGONIA), UAE (against .ISLAM and .HALAL) and some African states (against one of the .AFRICA applications!) are samples of this type of activity.

The result of such activities can be another loss of freedom of internet and another godfather-type control of governments on internet. Is ICANN acting the way to let another WCIT-12 occurs? Doesn’t it create an inequality of stakeholders of the internet multi-stakeholder system?

Now, it is ICANN’s turn to show how dominancy does it have on its self-created procedures whether to let or not to let internet enslavement happen by abusing its procedures.

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July 10th, 2013



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