Update from Brussels: ICANN-GAC Consultation

February 28, 2011

Monday’s meeting between the ICANN Board of Directors and the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) primarily consisted of clarification of the items on which the GAC and the Board were at odds, as well as agreeing on the process to consider those items. The only issues addressed were around ICANN’s proposed introduction of  gTLDs (generic top level domains). Amongst the items discussed were procedures for reviewing sensitive strings, market and economic impacts, and protection of rights-owners.

The GAC’s U.S. representative Suzanne Sene stressed GAC’s concern over the fragmentation of the Internet, which would result if governments begin to block top level domains.

“Government blocking of TLDs is a real concern,” acknowledged Free Speech Coalition (FSC) Executive Director Diane Duke.  “My counterpart Fiona Patten, Executive Director of EROS in Australia, told me that Australia would almost certainly block .XXX.” Other countries that Duke said were likely to block TLDs included Germany, China, and Saudi Arabia.  The U.S. government has indicated that it is likely to seek mandates on TLDs.

Duke stressed, “It is clear that a .XXX sTLD is not only bad for adult businesses, but also it is bad for the Internet as a whole.”

During a break, Duke managed to speak with ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom and Legal Counsel John Jeffrey. At that point, Duke was able to uncover information on when and where issues concerning .XXX will be formally considered.

“Beckstrom and Jeffrey told me that the Board/GAC consultation will take place on March 17, in San Francisco, at the ICANN conference and that the Board would address the results from that meeting the next day, at their Board meeting,” Duke said.

This week, FSC will publish a series of articles outlining issues surrounding the proposed .XXX sTLD, which will be published in industry trade publications, as well as on the FSC Blog.

(Photo: Some rights reserved by Konrad Andrews)


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