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

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Wed Nov 2 09:43:37 UTC 2016

Olivier is exactly right

Allegations of subversion of process are *absolute bullshit*. The process
is working *exactly* as
 bylaws demand;

- The GNSO has created policy in the interest of domain buyers and sellers.

- Meanwhile, the GAC is doing just what the bylaws tell it to do ... advise
ICANN. It has no defined decision-making role in the policy development
process, and its advice -- like that of any AC -- may be ignored, usually
without consequence.

But not this time.

What has got the GNSO in its current whinging fit is the "or else"
threatened if ICANN blows off the GAC advice on IGOs ... in the way it has
customarily blown off previous AC advice that counters the GNSO's will.

To this, my reaction is less "how could this happen" but rather "this was
inevitable, I'm amazed it didn't happen sooner".

Welcome, finally, to the consequences of ICANN's deliberate separation of
 stakeholders into different classes; those who must be heeded (the GNSO)
and those who only give advice and may be casually blown off (the ACs).
ICANN must now deal with this unequal, unfair structure of its own design.

I welcome the discussion Olivier calls for, that recognizes and elevates
the interests of those who neither buy nor sell domains, yet are profoundly
impacted by ICANN policy.

Until then .... the onus, should it wish to avoid a conflict, is on the
GNSO to accommodate the AC, not vice versa.

Preferably there is a negotiated middle ground -- in a meeting of equals,
not an invitation as a guest to an already-slanted working group. I have
seen my share of GNSO WGs where the invited advisory council reps were
factored out of the final consensus because the output was, after all,
subject to GNSO ratification and nobody else's. Indeed, I was part of a
2012 working group that considered IOC and ICRC requests and, eventually,
blew them off. So they DID try the bottom-up process and it failed because
the GNSO overpowered the complainants. What we see now is the payback for

I've also been happy to see that CCWGs are working well. Maybe that is the
answer. "We invited them to our process that only we need to ratify" is
likely insufficient inclusion. Perhaps the discussions Olivier asks for
will result in CCWGs being the default bylaw-mandated structure for PDPs.

But enough about process....

Lest we get distracted by process as ICANN does so often and so well, let's
also remember the substance of the issue. Multiple people on this thread
have complained "why should we afford protection to the XXX if we don't
give it to someone else deserving?" or "why should ICANN give protection to
XXX that it doesn't get elsewhere?"

Such arguments are so commonplace within ICANN that I consider them to be
corporate culture, the standard retort to anything that suggests change to
the status quo. Their logic can be compressed into:

*If you can't fix everything, don't fix anything.*

I reject that argument, deliberately advanced to stifle improvement and
innovation while enabling past errors to remain errors in perpetuity.

The issue in front of us -- should ALAC advise on the matter -- is not
about the value of MSF or trademark protections of IGOs. We are constrained
to deal with protection of IGO strings within gTLDs. Inside that narrow
regard there is a public interest in which, IMO, we should engage.

At very least, I cannot understand why anyone considering the public
interest would oppose reserving ICRC strings; that body that is explicitly
mentioned in the most fundamental of international humanitarian treaties.
Its names and symbols are most certainly abused regularly.

In the case of Alan's favourite example.... the International Organization
for Standardization has members from 163 countries, that produces
information critical for interoperability in thousands of fields. Its
protection is not quite as critical as the ICRC (and UNICEF, UNHCR, etc)
because it does not solicit public funds. However the public information it
produces is not just useful but required to be complete and accurate by
both the private and public sectors. So on the balance I would support its
protection. As a matter of general criteria I would want to protect any IGO
that either solicits public funds or has a significant public-information

If ICANN wishes an internal body to identify criteria for organizations
whose strings are in need of public-interest protection, At-Large is
actually the appropriate place to advise on that. But if
brinkmanship between the GAC and GNSO demands a binary answer from ALAC,
the massive public benefit of protecting the ICRC and other fundraising
IGOs overrides the domain industry's entitlement to commoditize IGO
strings. The more obscure IGOs don't require protection, but reserving
their strings is harmless from a public-interest point of view should we be
faced with an all-or-nothing choice.

​- Evan​
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