.Health applications move forward after lengthy objection process.
The objection process against .health top level domain names is over.
Both DotHealth, LLC and Donuts have survived community objections filed against their applications. They previously survived limited public interest objections.
The community objections were filed by the ICANN At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC).
Panelist Jan Paulsson took a bit different approach to this determination than other panelists. He consider much of ICANN’s role in the internet and the principles upon which it created the new top level domain name program. Ultimately, he determined there is not clearly delineated “health” community.
Here’s Paulsson on the principles of the new TLD program:
…I see no reflection here of ALAC’s undisguised bias against “commercial applicants” who “cannot be trusted to self-police the .health domain space and are “more than likely” to place “commercial interests before public welfare interests”…. This type of policy was not the road taken [by ICANN], notwithstanding the lengthy and broad consultations described in The Guidebook…. It is not for me to express preferences in this regard, but to apply the relevant rules as I find them. The Objector’s animadversions against the Applicant miss the target; profit-seekers may apply; the public interest is evidently intended to be protected by protocols imposed by ICANN in a manner akin to that of regulators whose supervision constrains the conduct of for-profit providers of public services generally.
Many other panelists seem to be against for-profit-only new TLD applicants, despite the fact that the program was set up with these bids in mind (more on this later).
Paulsson also recalls recommendations made for the program in 2008, one of which states:
The evaluation and selection procedure for new gTLD registries should respect the principles of fairness, transparency and non-discrimination. All applicants for a new gTLD registry should therefore be
evaluated against transparent and predictable criteria, fully available to the applicants prior to the initiation of the process. Normally, therefore, no subsequent additional selection criteria should be used in the selection process.
Here again, he’s referring to their expressly being no requirements that applications be made for the greater good of humanity:
If there had also been an intent to adopt such a fundamental principle as the requirement that the right to apply – whether generally or with respect to certain strings – be exclusively reserved for non-profit entities, it surely would have been explicit.
Moreover, Paulsson makes some determinations at direct odds with the panelist in the .insurance decision I wrote about earlier today.
Paulsson notes that Governmental Advisory Committee advice is just advice that may be accepted. He notes that GAC advice on sensitive strings is “left to be addressed in the protocols imposed on those who administer those strings,” and not on objection panelists. The panelist in the .insurance case took GAC advice into strong consideration.
Also, Paulsson declared that “For a string to succumb to a community-based Objection, its very name must surely bring to mind the identity of the Objector (or those sought to be protected by the Objector) as its ‘target.'” The panelist in .insurance said the name certainly doesn’t have to conjure up the identity of the objector. And other panelists have ruled that community objections can be brought by groups that only make up a subset of the target, which seems to be at odds with this determination.
I think this paragraph by Paulsson is telling:
The Internet, as operated under ICANN’s system of policies, is conceived as an open vehicle for communication, intended to promote free expression, to enable innovation, to increase consumer choice, and to permit the dissemination of diverse data, analyses, and opinions rather than the orthodoxy proclaimed by public officials who assert the authority to decide what is “true” or “sound”.
One observation I’ve made while reviewing objection decisions is that the country of the panelist seems to greatly color their decision. Panelists in some European countries are opposed to for-profit exploitation of things related to healthcare. They are also biased in favor of government opinion. Panelists from other regions are not.
Paulsson is a professor at University of Miami.
It seems that objections would be better decided by three person panels with geographic diversity.