[At-Large] [ALAC] Reference: ICC Ruling on Objections filed by the ALAC

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu Jan 23 07:48:22 UTC 2014

On 23 January 2014 01:15, Rinalia Abdul Rahim
<rinalia.abdulrahim at gmail.com>wrote:

> A review of the process would be useful. For example, recommendations
> could be made on whether the ICC panel should include more than 1 person
> and whether some kind of briefing on the context of ICANN, its ecosystem
> and processes should be incorporated as part of the panel preparation.

Perhaps a little history is in order.

I would note that ALAC was never happy with having the ICC as adjudicators
in the first place, or even having an objection process at all. If ICANN
did not listen to us when the process was first started, what confidence
exists that it would listen to a review that recommends change when it did
not listen to our original designs?

I am now reminded about the original purpose of the objection process, and
in retrospect realize that it has accomplished exactly what it was
originally intended to do.

The objection procedure is an outgrowth of the GNSO "Rec 6" Working
which was trying to devise a way for groups to object to "offensive"
strings (.nazi was the example raised most frequently). The ALAC was quite
clear at the time in its analysis of the objection process. The communiqué
from ATLAS #1 in Mexico City -- in which all ALSs participated and agreed
unanimously, and at which Alejandro was a keynote speaker -- stated that:

 *We emphatically call for the complete abolition of the class of
> objections based on morality **and public order. We assert that ICANN has
> no business being in (or delegating) the role of **comparing relative
> morality and conflicting human rights.*

Despite this, ICANN still created an objection process -- but as a
concession, allowed ALAC the ability to object. (Little did we know at the
time that this ability would be useless because, while we could object we
could not be assured standing to object :-P )

The anticipated glut of profane TLD applications never occurred, and the
expected murmur against the three sex-related applications was quickly
brushed aside. So most of the original point of the objection process
quickly became moot. What then occupied the objection process were

   - Objections on trademark grounds
   - The ability for a community to complain that a TLD that claimed to
   represent them really didn't

So it was no longer about "what strings were unacceptable" but rather  "who
should control this string", a very contentious issue within ICANN and
still a source of friction between ICANN and its GAC. The community
objection has since been used in religious (.islam), geographical
(.patagonia) and other grounds. In this context, At-Large participation in
objection to .health does indeed raise a legitimate question...

*Does At-Large really care which of the existing applicants runs .health? *

The adjudicator said it's not our complaint to make, and in some ways I'm
not sure I disagree. ALAC never really asked for the right to object in
this way anyhow. And given that PICs are useless and ultimately
unenforceable, we can't use them to judge which of the applicants would be
a "better" custodian of the string.

So, in this situation, what is ALAC's role? Since the string ".health" is
not obscene, our objections amount to wanting a say in which applicant
controls the string. Had the World Health Organization -- which had applied
in the past for .health in the past but
applied this time as a community gTLD, it would have prevailed over
non-community applications and the objections would be moot.

But that didn't happen. In its absence, do we have the right to say that
"if the WHO can't have it, nobody can"?

If we want to say "the allocation of domain names must serve the public
interest", that philosophy demands FAR FAR more than lame objection
processes and even lamer PICs. But it would also demand almost a complete
reboot of the gTLD process and of ICANN itself. Given where we are, the
objection process probably did the right thing and got out of the way. It's
up to the public to either use or shun the .health TLD -- by whoever gets
it -- based on its accumulated trust and value.

- Evan

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