[GTLD-WG] At-Large commentary on cross-community report on "objectionable strings"

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri Oct 8 06:55:50 UTC 2010

Hello everyone,

As you may know, one of the biggest complaints that At-Large has had with
the process of allocating new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) has been a
clause in the Applicant Guidebook referring to objections based on "Morality
and Public Order". The At-Large objection to it was a significant component
of the gTLD commentary that was developed at the At-Large Summit, and
opposition to the "MAPO objection" has remained ALAC policy to this day.

Apparently our distaste for this was shared by ICANN's Government Advisory
Committee (GAC), though for different reasons. A common effort to revise the
MAPO approach was discussed informally between ALAC and GAC members at the
Nairobi ICANN meeting, and more formally at the ICANN Brussels meeting. As a
result, together with the GNSO -- ICANN's main policy-making body on gTLDs
-- a joint working group was created to to to find common ground on this
very controversial issue.

To many peoples' delight, this joint working group achieved a phenomenal (in
my opinion) amount of consensus between the three groups (ALAC, GAC and
GNSO) which included some *very* divergent points of view. We didn't agree
on everything, but we did agree on some very specific points. Most important
of these points was to recommend against the use of Dispute Resolution
Service Providers as described in the current Application
Guidebook<http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/draft-rfp-clean-28may10-en.pdf>(sections and 3.4.3). This has been replaced with a complete
consensus that ultimate decisions on contentious strings rests with the
Board alone (assisted by independent experts offering opinion on
applicability of international law and treaty).

The full recommendations of this working group, which provide far more
detailed background than I have provided above, can be read in its report to
the Board<http://gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/report-rec6-cwg-21sep10-en.pdf>.
The group as a whole intensely disliked even the term "Morality and Public
Order", and as a result it was generally referred to as the "Rec 6 WG"
(referring to Recommendation 6 of the GNSO's gTLD creation policy which
referred to this kind of objection).

ALAC has already endorsed the report, but I am asking this At-Large Working
Group about the desirability to add further comment -- as a minority report
to emphasise our point of view on areas of divergence, and/or as a further
positive re-enforcement that underscores the community's widespread
preference for the current WG proposals instead of the existing process.

Further affecting our decision may be the Board resolution from its recent
retreat on this

*The Board acknowledges receipt of the Rec6CWG report. This is a difficult
> issue, and the work of the community in developing these recommendations is
> appreciated. The Board has discussed this important issue for the past three
> years.*
> *The Board agrees that ultimate responsibility for the new gTLD program
> rests with the Board. The Board, however, wishes to rely on the
> determinations of experts regarding these issues.*
> *The Board will accept the Rec6 CWG recommendations that are not
> inconsistent with the existing process, as this can be achieved before the
> opening of the first gTLD application round, and will work to resolve any
> inconsistencies. Staff will consult with the Board for further guidance as
> required.*

This wording is vague, and by some interpretations it enables the Board to
repudiate some of the important points of consensus. Accordingly, we may
want to emphasize the broad community support behind the WG's initiative.

I welcome members of this -- the At-Large working group on ICANN gTLD policy
-- to discuss the report here. as well as to help draft a satatement which
ALAC would be asked to endorse and and send as official community comment.
If requested, I am certainly amenable to holding a community conference call
on this issue attended by senior members of the WG as well as At-Large
participants in it.

Thanks for your participation and help.

Evan Leibovitch
ALAC gTLD Working Group.

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