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What they’re saying about the GAC’s safeguard advice

Is the GAC right? It depends on who you ask.

The ICANN New gTLD Board Committee request for comment on the GAC’s safeguard advice has closed, and the reply period will open soon. Here are some select comments, along with links to the full comments.

“Instead of Guidebook advice, the GAC has offered public policy advice and expects the whole New gTLD program to be halted until such advice is considered and adopted.”

Jonathon Nevett, Donuts Inc

“The GAC is proposing restrictions upon the new gTLDs which have not been imposed on their own ccTLDs.”

Graeme Bunton, Tucows

“Governments play an important role in the multi-stakeholder model of Internet Governance, but the implications of the GAC Beijing Communiqué represents a fundamental re-write of the New gTLD Program by a single stakeholder at the very end of a multi-year process.”

James Bladel, Registrar Stakeholder Group

“…the Insurance Council considers that the risk of harm being done to the public interest means that some strings should not be permitted as new gTLDs no matter the level of safeguards applied.”

Robert Whelan, Insurance Council of Australia

“…use of the GAC Objection procedure to create new, one-size-fits-all, across-the-board mandatory requirements at this late date is in fundamental tension with the ICANN multi-stakeholder model in general, and its bottom-up policy development principle in particular.”

J. Beckwith Burr, Neustar

“The GAC did not advise or comment on the actual ICANN policy, but seems to have attempted to take over the process of defining and implementing new gTLD policy at an impossibly late stage of the process.”

Robin Gross, Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group

“It is vital to take special care when assigning strings representing generic terms like .APP because those terms have the opportunity to artificially define an entire industry. Generic terms logically lead consumers to assume that the gTLD represents the industry as a whole.”

Jonathan Zuck, Association for Competitive Technology

“The GAC Advice has created a competitive disadvantage for applicants who have, from the start, committed to responsible policies that others in their contention set now have a third chance to get right.”

John Berard, VoxPopuli Registry

By incorporating the GAC Advice into the new gTLD program, ICANN will strengthen and lend credibility to the multi-stakeholder process.

Steven Metalitz, Coalition for Online Accountability

“…there are good reasons for the Board to follow the GAC’s advice regarding the GAC Safeguards, which represent a thoughtful response to the GAC’s legitimate scalability concern, which Turn shares. There is no good reason not to.”

Todd D. Williams, Turner Broadcasting System

“While the recommendations offered in the GAC Communiqué are extensive, and come at a late stage of the new gTLD process, many of the issues they address go to the very heart of the success and stability of the new gTLD program.”

Meredith Baker, NBCUniversal

“If GAC advice were followed, the new gTLD program would be changed from an objective process in which qualified applicants are granted new gTLDs into a ongoing subjective regime in which new policies and rules can be issued by the GAC on ad-hoc basis without reference to principles, rationales, or access to any appeal by affected parties– it would turn the multi-stakeholder model on its head.”

Antony Van Couvering, Minds + Machines

“The Internet is too valuable and important to consumers, brandholders and the economy for ICANN not to address the issues raised in the Advice.”

Dan Jaffe, Association of National Advertisers

“We ask the ICANN Board to reject the GAC advice on “Consumer Protection, Sensitive Strings, and Regulated Markets” because it is untimely, ill-conceived, overbroad, and too vague to implement.

Bret Fausett, Uniregistry

“The GAC’s recommendations raise complex issues of ICANN’s mission and governance and how they relate to the laws of the jurisdictions in which the registries operate.”

Thomas M. Lenard, Technology Policy Institute

“The role of GAC advice at this stage, as outlined in the Applicant Guidebook, is to address individual strings, not provide advice on the program as a whole.”

Aparna Sridhar, Google

“GE remains concerned that ICANN will be under such pressure to move forward with the new gTLD program that it may not sufficiently implement or consider the GAC’s advice, or enter into the serious negotiations necessary to come to a mutually agreeable solution.”

Kathryn Park, GE

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  1. gpmgroup says

    “The GAC is proposing restrictions upon the new gTLDs which have not been imposed on their own ccTLDs.”

    Don’t think many new gTLD owners would like their new gTLDs to be subject to the same “ultimate” sanction each government can use on their country’s ccTLD if they don’t feel the ccTLD is behaving as they see fit.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      @ gpmgroup – the point they’re trying to make is that if these “risks” are so dire, then why don’t these countries take mitigating steps with their own ccTLDs?

  2. gpmgroup says

    Because they don’t need to?

    From a governments perspective they can come down on “their” ccTLD managers without dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s whenever they feel like it (within reason/public perceptions etc.).

    With gTLDs governments may feel they have very little control. Getting ICANN to do anything is very expensive and time consuming, plus their contracts are unnecessarily complex which in turn introduces the possibility of ambiguity.

    For example:

    Take expiring domains, are registrars allowed to make the WHOIS private and then auction them? The RAA seems to suggest not… Has ICANN ever brought a registrar to task for it?

    Can a registrar lock a domain for 60 days on an internal transfer? If a registrar says the agreement they have with the consumer overrides the agreement they have with ICANN, would ICANN ever enforce their agreement?

    Neither of those things would be unlikely to happen in a ccTLD whether contractually forbidden or not, simply because if the government doesn’t want it to happen, like it or not, in most cases a quiet word or a letter will suffice.

  3. Dave Tyrer says

    Some of the “risks” inherent in some of the proposed gTLDs are much higher than those in existing ccTLDs. The right of the dot letters (authoritative) are perceived by consumers differently to left of the dot (descriptive). Certain gTLDs are now being described as “sensitive” and that is a very practical descriptor.

    For example, strings like .kids, .insurance, .charity and .attorney are “sensitive” for obvious reasons. Many people are going to assume a certain amount of credibility and authority to domains like ChildCare.kids or Boston.insurance or Litigation.attorney. Maybe they are naive, but it is undeniably true.

    Many people might reasonably assume that a site like Disability.charity is somehow licensed by the government or represents the sector or something.

    So I agree with part of the logic of one of the quotes in this post:

    ————————————
    “Generic terms logically lead consumers to assume that the gTLD represents the industry as a whole.”

    Jonathan Zuck, ACT
    ————————————

    This argument is similar to objections against closed gTLDs (like .insurance and .carinsurance) such as this comment by the American Insurance Association on the earlier ICANN closed generics forum:

    ————————————
    “…Consumers will likely be misled into believing that one entity represents the entire insurance industry, has established measures that have set them apart from (or is safer than) the rest of the industry, or has somehow obtained governmental license or endorsement that it is superior to other members of the larger insurance community.”

    Angela Gleason. AIA
    ————————————

    Some people consider there to be an unacceptable risk if the sensitive strings proceed without decisive regulation. Too much risk of damage to society by scammers or pedophiles or fraudsters.

    It is a valid question and there is no easy solution – should anyone be able to register a .attorney domain or should it be restricted to qualified members of the legal profession? And where do you draw the line, what about a document delivery service that serves the legal profession?

    This has led to a further controversy that the GAC has gone too far in classifying new gTLDs as “sensitive”. I agree with that, however it will be a massive and time-consuming problem to narrow down the list.

    At present, seemingly innocuous strings like .game and .games (classified under “children”), .free, .discount and .news are on “sensitive” lists and obviously this is contentious among the registry applicants.

  4. ChuckWagen says

    Dave, I think what you’re saying is “This has led to a further controversy that the GAC has gone too far in classifying CERTAIN new gTLDs as ‘sensitive'”. Correct?

    Interesting comment overall, well put.

  5. Dave Tyrer says

    @ ChuckWagen

    Yes, that’s what I meant to say. I’ve just taken another look at the interesting Beijing communique. First the GAC says there are six safeguards which should apply to ALL new gTLDs, things like strong whois verification etc which together give a solid foundation of further protecting the public interest.

    Then, they give further advice in the case of “

  6. Dave Tyrer says

    [ previous reply seems to have been cut off?… try again]

    Yes, that’s what I meant to say. I’ve just taken another look at the interesting Beijing communique. First the GAC says there are six safeguards which should apply to ALL new gTLDs, things like strong whois verification etc which together give a solid foundation of further protecting the public interest.

    Then, they give further advice in the case of “

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