[At-Large] ICANN blog : US Government Opposes Launch of New gTLD Program in Cartagena

Antony Van Couvering avc at namesatwork.com
Fri Dec 3 23:21:07 UTC 2010


A shot across the bow.  I have to agree.  First consider the timing -- just before the ICANN meeting, when everyone going is on a plane with limited connectivity.  This is true to form, Commerce always sends their letter at about this time.

The letter is almost angry; it's certainly emotional. But all the events that it refers to happened weeks ago, surely long enough ago for a seasoned government official to cool down a bit. 

Second, consider the content -- the letter refers almost exclusively to the AoC, which is applauded by everyone (see http://www.icann.org/en/affirmation/affirmation-reaction.htm).  It says that ICANN has to honor its commitments as defined by the AoC -- which I think everyone will agree it should.

Here's what the AoC (see xxx) says in regard to gTLDs:

9.3 Promoting competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice: ICANN will ensure that as it contemplates expanding the top-level domain space, the various issues that are involved (including competition, consumer protection, security, stability and resiliency, malicious abuse issues, sovereignty concerns, and rights protection) will be adequately addressed prior to implementation. If and when new gTLDs (whether in ASCII or other language character sets) have been in operation for one year, ICANN will organize a review that will examine the extent to which the introduction or expansion of gTLDs has promoted competition, consumer trust and consumer choice, as well as effectiveness of (a) the application and evaluation process, and (b) safeguards put in place to mitigate issues involved in the introduction or expansion.

Essentially, since all of prior-to-implementation things have been addressed (to the greater or lesser satisfaction of various parties), the argument is over whether they have been "adequately addressed."   Frankly, that's a matter of opinion.  Some (me for instance) will say that they have addressed to death.  Others will argue that they won't be adequately addressed until ICANN agrees with their viewpoint -- see, for instance, the endless series of economic studies that have failed to satisfy opponents of gTLDs.  (There's a nice write-up of these by Milton Mueller at http://blog.internetgovernance.org/blog/_archives/2010/12/3/4694980.html).

The Department of Commerce seems to think that ICANN hasn't followed the AoC; ICANN seems to think it has.  This is always the problem with vague promises.  

In the late 90s, DoC took over from Postel and the nascent IAHC and created ICANN.  That was then, it was a different world.  Now other governments feel they have an interest; they watch ICANN closely, they participate, they are beginning to understand the issues and to take positions that differ from those of the U.S.  In particular, they don't like the idea of the DoC acting unilaterally (as it did in creating ICANN).  And the AoC speaks to that too, by affirming the enhanced role of the GAC. 

The U.S. has been doing a lot of unilateral acting lately, seizing domains and so on, causing businesses to consider relocating, using ccTLDs that are outside of U.S. jurisdiction, and so on.  I can imagine that this is not sitting very well with some governments who prefer multilateral decisions.  I have to believe that the recent domain seizures will not strengthen the authority of the U.S. position with other GAC members. 

So, yes, it's a shot across the bow, but all it can do is express displeasure with ICANN's interpretation of its duties under the AoC.  There is no obvious "violation."  ICANN has just released the latest economic study, which says absolutely nothing (as such studies inevitably do when trying to predict the future).  It can certainly easily supply additional reasoning for its VI decision, or any other decision it has made, and it probably should.  But these are deficits that are easily rectified.  

In essence, the DoC seems angry at ICANN for announcing that it's going ahead with gTLDs without explicit DoC permission, which is specifically *not* required by the AoC.  


On Dec 3, 2010, at 2:31 PM, Carlton Samuels wrote:

> This ain't a whole helluva lot, to be honest.  ICANN, the corporation - some
> would say 'trade association' should be included as definitional - has its
> thing going.  And from time to time, it ignores folks we call
> 'stakeholders'.  USG would not be the first so treated.
> The response goes to show though that "all animals are equal but some are
> more equal than others".
> This is the 'public' rumbling. After so many years of reading the 'tea
> leaves' that represent missives from official Washington, you get to know
> that the subtext - and the content conveyed in the sub-carrier channels - is
> what counts.
> ....a shot across the ICANN bow for effect......
> Carlton
> ==============================
> Carlton A Samuels
> Mobile: 876-818-1799
> Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround
> =============================
> On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 8:53 PM, Dev Anand Teelucksingh <admin at ttcsweb.org>wrote:
>> http://blog.icann.org/2010/12/us-government-opposes-launch-of-new-gtld-program-in-cartagena/
>> US DoC letter : http://forum.icann.org/lists/5gtld-guide/pdf4SSmb5oOd5.pdf
>> US Government Opposes Launch of New gTLD Program in Cartagena
>> by Rod Beckstrom
>> We appreciate the many comments received so far on the draft Applicant
>> Guidebook in its five full versions. We thank the community and all
>> who contributed for their engagement, thoughts and opinions during the
>> course of this process.
>> One of the most recent comments we have received is a letter today
>> from the US Department of Commerce (DoC).
>> ICANN’s success and legitimacy derive from the multistakeholder model,
>> the basis on which new gTLD policy was developed. The policy process
>> decision to undertake this program was approved by the GNSO Council in
>> 2007 and adopted by ICANN’s board of directors in 2008.
>> In the Affirmation of Commitments, the US government and ICANN
>> reconfirmed our mutual commitment to the multistakeholder model. ICANN
>> confirmed our commitment to solicit public comment and to hear all
>> voices.
>> As with all contributions, ICANN will give DoC’s comments careful
>> consideration as part of the implementation of the GNSO policy.
>> ------------
>> _______________________________________________
>> At-Large mailing list
>> At-Large at atlarge-lists.icann.org
>> https://atlarge-lists.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/at-large
>> At-Large Official Site: http://atlarge.icann.org
> _______________________________________________
> At-Large mailing list
> At-Large at atlarge-lists.icann.org
> https://atlarge-lists.icann.org/mailman/listinfo/at-large
> At-Large Official Site: http://atlarge.icann.org

More information about the At-Large mailing list