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

Christopher Wilkinson cw at christopherwilkinson.eu
Thu Jan 23 17:33:58 UTC 2014

Good evening:

I am still working my way through the ICC document, so will defer detailed comments.

However, it is becoming increasingly clear that unless ICANN recognises At Large (and other Civil Society participants) on a par with the Registry/Registrar interest, then decisions will probably not be in the 'public interest'.
The more we see such unbalanced decisions, the greater will be the push-back from the GAC, who will argue that the governments are evidently, even regrettably, the only custodians of the public interest. Which is only a step away from governmental control of the MS process.

A case in point: The European Commission has adumbrated a number of Internet Principles, including the following:

<<COMPACT principles: an Internet of Civic responsibilities, One unfragmented resource governed via Multi-stakeholder approach to Promote democracy and Human Rights, based on a sound technological Architecture that engenders Confidence and facilitates a Transparent governance.>>

To be sure, having a sole professor from Miami empowered to reject an objection from the principal public interest stakeholder, does not come within my concept  of an Internet of Civic responsibilities.

Just a thought


On 23 Jan 2014, at 08:48, Evan Leibovitch <evan at telly.org> wrote:

> 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
> Group<https://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-2-22sep10-en.htm>,
> 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
> withdrew<https://archive.icann.org/en/tlds/health1/WHO-A-Transmittal-Form.htm>--
> applied this time as a community gTLD, it would have prevailed over
> the
> 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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