[ALAC] FYI - CNET on ICANN, "Domain Name Veto"

Wolf Ludwig wolf.ludwig at comunica-ch.net
Mon Feb 28 14:35:21 UTC 2011

Thanks, Marc, this is actually of interest!

Best, Wolf

Marc Rotenberg wrote Mon, 28 Feb 2011 08:52:
>Perhaps of interest.
>February 28, 2011 4:00 AM PST
>No support for U.S. proposal for domain name veto
>by Declan McCullagh
>The Obama administration has failed in its bid to allow it and other
>governments to veto future top-level domain names, a proposal before
>ICANN that raised questions about balancing national sovereignty
>with the venerable Internet tradition of free expression.
>A group of nations rejected (PDF) that part of the U.S. proposal
>last week, concluding instead that governments can offer nonbinding
>"advice" about controversial suffixes such as .gay but will not
>receive actual veto power.
>Other portions of the U.S. proposal were adopted, including one
>specifying that individual governments may file objections to
>proposed suffixes without paying fees and another making it easier
>for trademark holders to object. The final document, called a
>"scorecard," will be discussed at a two-day meeting that starts
>today in Brussels.
>At stake are the procedures to create the next wave of suffixes to
>supplement the time-tested .com, .org, and .net. Hundreds of
>proposals are expected this year, including .car, .health, .love,
>.movie, and .web, and the application process could be finalized at
>a meeting next month in San Francisco of ICANN, or the Internet
>Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
>Proposed domain suffixes like .gay are likely to prove contentious
>among more conservative nations, as are questions over whether
>foreign firms should be able to secure potentially lucrative rights
>to operate geographical suffixes such as .nyc, .paris, and .london.
>And nobody has forgotten the furor over .xxx, which has been in
>limbo for seven years after receiving an emphatic thumbs-down from
>the Bush administration.
>"We are very pleased that this consensus-based process is moving
>forward," a spokeswoman for the U.S. Commerce Department said in a
>statement provided to CNET over the weekend. "The U.S., along with
>many other GAC members, submitted recommendations for consideration
>and as expected, these recommendations provided valuable input for
>the development of the new scorecard."
>GAC is the Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN and composed of
>representatives of scores of national governments from Afghanistan
>to Yemen. The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and
>Information Administration, or NTIA, serves as the committee's
>representative from the United States.
>ICANN representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
>Milton Mueller, a professor of information studies at Syracuse
>University and author of a recently published book on Internet
>governance, says an effort he supported--complete with an online
>petition--"shamed" GAC representatives "into thinking about the free
>expression consequences" of a governmental veto.
>"When I started this campaign, I knew that the Department of
>Commerce could never defend what they were doing publicly," Mueller
>said. "There are also potential constitutional issues."
>Complicating the Obama administration's embrace of a governmental
>veto was its frequently expressed support for Internet freedoms
>including free speech, laid out in Secretary of State Hillary
>Clinton's speech last January. Clinton reiterated the
>administration's commitment to "the freedom to connect" again in a
>speech in Washington, D.C. this month.
>One argument for the veto over new-top level domains is that it
>could fend off the possibility of a more fragmented Internet, which
>would likely happen if less liberal governments adopt technical
>measures to prevent their citizens from connecting to .gay and .xxx
>Web sites. In addition, handing governments more influence inside
>ICANN could reduce the odds of a revolt that would vest more
>Internet authority with the United Nations, a proposal that China
>allies supported last year.
>"I suspect that the U.S. government put (the veto power) in there to
>show that it wants to respect the wishes of governments," said Steve
>DelBianco, executive director of the NetChoice coalition. "I think
>the U.S. would prefer to see a string rejected rather than let it
>get into the root and have multiple nations block the top-level
>DelBianco, whose coalition's members include AOL, eBay, Oracle,
>VeriSign, and Yahoo, said "blocking creates stability and
>consistency problems with the Internet...The U.S. government was
>showing a preference for having one global root."
>Today's meeting in Brussels between the ICANN board and national
>government, which appears to be unprecedented in the history of the
>organization, signals a deepening rift and an attempt to resolve
>disputes before ICANN's next public meeting beginning March 13 in
>San Francisco. (The language of the official announcement says the
>goal is "arrive at an agreed upon resolution of those differences.")
>A seven-page statement (PDF) in December 2010 from the national
>governments participating in the ICANN process says they are "very
>concerned" that "public policy issues raised remain unresolved." In
>addition to concern over the review of "sensitive" top-level
>domains, the statement says, there are also issues about "use and
>protection of geographical names."
>That statement followed years of escalating tensions between ICANN
>and representatives of national governments, including a letter
>(PDF) they sent in August 2010 suggesting that "the absence of any
>controversial [suffixes] in the current universe of top-level
>domains to date contributes directly to the security and stability
>of the domain name and addressing system." And the German government
>recently told (PDF) ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom that there are
>"outstanding issues"--involving protecting trademark holders--that
>must be resolved before introducing "new top-level domains."
>Read more:
>ALAC mailing list
>ALAC at atlarge-lists.icann.org
>At-Large Online: http://www.atlarge.icann.org
>ALAC Working Wiki: http://st.icann.org/alac

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