[At-Large] R: IGO names: is this worth war?

Roberto Gaetano roberto_gaetano at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 2 02:18:03 UTC 2016

Hi all.

(I anticipate that this message will not reach the ALAC internal list, as I am not a member of it)

Personally, I believe that this whole story has very little, if anything at all, to do with “public interest” but is all about having one stakeholder of the global equal multi-stakeholder model being more equal than the others, if I may paraphrase George Orwell.
If we see the matter under this point of view, it seems obvious to me that it is in the best interest of all other stakeholders, including us, to reject this approach. It would be also in the best interest of ICANN as an umbrella organization not to jeopardize its own governance model, but for them to provide this answer in absence of the reaction of the stakeholder community would be extremely complicated.

So much for the form.
About the substance, the claim is made that the protection is needed to avoid scam on fundraising using IGO names.
However, the same claim can be made by most, if not all, NGOs, because their funding mechanism is based on fundraising from the public, unlike most, if not all, IGOs whose funding comes from governments.
Rightfully so, Evan quotes an example that involves the Red Cross: I seriously doubt that some scammer will ever use, for instance, the name of my former employer, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a scam – so why protect that and not, for instance, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Personally, I am against special preventive protection (some of you might remember that I was against the special protection also for the Red Cross and the IOC) but I might possibly be convinced to accept a compromise based on preventing scams in fundraising only in the case of a very specific list of organizations that includes qualifying IGOs (although I believe there are none who do fundraising via calls to the public) and also relevant NGOs. In other words, the barn is open since the decision of granting special rights to a couple of organizations, and now we need to deal with the consequences of that (to me wrong) decision.
I appreciate that Evan makes a similar distinction in his post that I am replying to, so we are not in complete disagreement, but unfortunately the proposal of the “small group” that is today on the table has no mention of NGOs, but only of IGOs, and that makes it completely unacceptable.

I believe that there will be a public discussion in Hyderabad on this matter next Monday.

Best regards,

Da: at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org [mailto:at-large-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org] Per conto di Evan Leibovitch
Inviato: martedì 1 novembre 2016 17:31
A: ICANN ALAC list; ICANN At-Large list
Oggetto: [At-Large] IGO names: is this worth war?

Hello everyone,

As the Hyderabad meeting gets underway, we have a potential for a conflict that, according to some, is a source of utter panic and a critical-enough battle that it is worth threatening ICANN's stability... and people still haven't yet fully recovered from the transition and the Ted Cruz scare.

I am speaking of the Governmental Advisory Commitee (GAC) wanting to reserve about 230 names and acronyms of inter-governmental organizations  (IGOs), and its threat to pull out of ICANN entirely and take its issues to the ITU Standardization Assembly.

The whole story can be found in a post at DomainIncite<http://domainincite.com/21215-rant-governments-raise-yet-another-un-threat-to-icann> that contains both profanity and apocalyptic tones.

At the threat of being an ICANN heretic (and it wouldn't be the first time), I'm on the side of the governments here.

[ Disclosure: I currently work at an agency that would be among the protected IGOs. However I have been involved in this issue, at the ICANN working group level, for many years, and my position is no different now than it was then. ]

While it is overkill to give a blanket ban on every IGO, I would rather give protection to a handful of organizations that don't need it, in return for protecting a number of organizations that would be critically impacted if their names were not protected. I am speaking specifically regarding organizations that do significant public fundraising in the public good -- the Red Cross (+ Red Crescent, etc), UNICEF, UNHCR, and others

I was involved when the issue first came up in 2011; there was a working group that was proposing to reserve names for the Red Cross and Olympics in all gTLDs. Most in the group were either all-for or all-against; I was split, opposing the Olympic reservations but strongly supporting reservations of any Red Cross related names or translations.

I still believe that the ICRC needs protection more than the IOC, but given the choice of protecting both or protecting neither I would absolutely come down on the side of "both". There most absolutely is a public interest in the reservation of names related to the Red Cross, United Nations and other IGOs, especially those that are engaged in public information or fundraising.

It matters far more to me that a scammer is prevented before-the-fact from registering "redcross-italy-earthquake.xyz<http://redcross-italy-earthquake.xyz>" than that the domain industry is free to sell "UNDP.whatever" to a speculator. By the time a URS claim could be filed against the scammer and adjudicated, the damage is done and the scammer moves on.

IMO it is not in the interest of the At-Large community to support the unfettered entitlement of the domain industry to sell whatever it wants without consideration of consequences. It is in our interests to keep the public from being harmed through the actions of the DNS. And, on the balance, this means that reserving the names of IGOs serves the public interest.

The domain industry's main counter-argument is that it should be entitled to sell whatever it wants. It believes that that WHO, the acronym for the World Health Organization but also a dictionary word, should be fair game to be sold as a domain to an ageing rock band or anyone else.

But I am concerned that a scammer -- or others with bad intent -- could use the WHO.something domain to present themselves as the World Health Organization and either present misinformation or engage in scamming fundraising. In a public-health context such misuse could have horrible aftermath.The harm to the domain community by blocking WHO.everything is less, IMO, than the harm to the public from letting that go to the highest bidder. (Of course the WHO is always within its ability to permit who.something to point to the rock band, etc)

​If the counter is that ICANN's MSM process does not allow for this kind of accommodation -- that the GNSO demands for wide open domains do not provide for this kind of exception -- then the process is broken. It must be remembered that -- pre-transition or post- -- ICANN is not itself an IGO. Sovereign states are not treaty-bound to honor GNSO policy decrees, they do so through trust and goodwill. If that goodwill is damaged then, ICANN will pay a heavy and possibly irreversible price.

There are many good places to take a principled stand in support of the MSM and against dictatorial control of the DNS. But reserving IGO names is not one of those good places. As much as I abhor the reserving of the string "olympic", that speaks more to my personal belief in the corruption of the IOC than principled opposition to the concept.

If the ALAC is consulted on this issue -- or if it considers issuing advice on its own initiative -- I simply ask that it asserts the point of view of the public interest, which is not always in selling the maximum number of domains for the maximum obtainable price.

Thank you.
Evan Leibovitch
Toronto / Geneva
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