IP: New gTLD committee responds to governments' issues with new gTLD program

Several issues, although purportedly consistent with the GAC's position, were still under consideration by the NGPC.

On Sept. 12, the ICANN Board New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) reported on its September meeting where it reached a decision regarding the Government Advisory Committee’s (GAC) issues concerning certain particular applications for new gTLDs and overarching issues with consumer choice, safety and security on the Internet. The report issued in the form of a report card indicated that the NGPC proposed position on all issues is consistent with GAC advice. However, several issues, although purportedly consistent with the GAC's position, were still under consideration by the NGPC.

At the Beijing Meeting, the GAC issued a communiqué identifying issued advice to the ICANN Board of Directors that the following applied-for strings be denied: . shenzhen (IDN in Chinese), .persiangulf, .guangzhou (IDN in Chinese), .amazon (and IDNs in Japanese and Chinese), .patagonia, .date, .spa, .yun, .thai, .zulu, .wine, and .vin.

ICANN notified applicants and the community about the GAC’s advice, opened the Beijing Communiqué to comments, and the applicants pursuant to ICANN policy were given a chance to respond.

The Beijing Communiqué also included “Safeguard Advice for New gTLDs,” which included a request to the ICANN Board that strings that are related or linked to professional sectors should be required to adopt policies that will protect consumers. These safeguards included requiring acceptable use policies that comply with applicable laws concerning privacy, data collection, consumer protection, fair lending, debt collection, etc., and establishing working relationships with the relevant regulatory or industry self-regulatory bodies.

Additionally, the GAC raised the issue of restricted or exclusive access strings that are generic terms. For instance, an application for .APP in which the applicant/owner was a software application provider that would use the string only for its applications. In such cases, the GAC advised that these exclusive access generic strings “should serve a public interest.”

The GAC conveyed its advice to the NGPC in its Durban Communiqué, which was issued on July 18. Applicants of strings that were specifically mentioned as objectionable submitted responses to the advice. In its September meeting, the NGPC adopted a scorecard approach, identifying issues and providing a score concerning its agreement or disagreement with the GAC’s advice or positions on certain matters.

As an initial matter, the NGPC declined to outright reject Amazon.com’s application for .amazon that has been opposed by Brazil and other South American countries. Instead, the NGPC indicated it would take action on the advice concerning the .amazon string at a future meeting. With respect to .thai, .spa, .yun, .guangzhou, .and .shenzhen, the GAC requested that ICANN not allow these applications to proceed beyond the initial evaluation stage. The NGPC response indicated that ICANN would allow these applications to go forward past initial evaluation, but that it will not enter into registry agreements with these applicants, subject, however, to the parties reaching an agreement with the GAC, prior to the close of the ICANN public meeting in Buenos Aires in November.

The GAC has also requested to the ICANN Board that the GAC work with Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and the NGPC to develop a cost-neutral mechanism that would provide notification to an IFO if a potential registrant seeks to register a domain name matching the acronym of an IGO at the second level and giving the IGO an opportunity to express concerns and presumably block this registration. The NGPC accepted this advice and indicated that it had adopted a resolution to require registry operators to implement temporary protections for a precise list of IGO names.

If the ICANN Board and the GAC cannot reach an agreement on the list of IGO names that will be protected, the current list will be accepted.

The NGPC also discussed the remaining open items from the Beijing Communiqué. These included the Safeguard Advice and the issue of exclusive access registries. The NGPC and staff are working with the GAC to identify a time and place for further dialogue on these items.

The NGPC was scheduled to meet again on Sept. 28 to continue its work on addressing the GAC's concerns in advance of the Buenos Aires meeting.

Contributing Author

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John McElwaine

John C. McElwaine is a partner and intellectual property attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP (Charleston, S.C.). He devotes his practice to Internet,...

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