The Government Advisory Counsel (GAC) has just issued its Communique from the ICANN London meeting.
It has been the practice of the GAC to issue such a Communique at the end of each ICANN meeting outlining its decisions its advice to the ICANN Board and any developments or other thoughts arising out of the meeting.
Here it is:
1. Transition of US Stewardship of IANA and Strengthening ICANN Accountability
The GAC is committed to engaging with the current processes dealing with transition of US Government stewardship of IANA; and strengthening ICANN accountability.
The GAC will participate in both processes by nominating the Chair and four additional GAC members for formal membership of the coordination group and working group respectively, to provide a balanced representation of governmental interests. The GAC will ensure that geographic, linguistic and gender diversity are reflected. GAC participants in the groups will consult with, and facilitate information flows across, the broader GAC membership.
The GAC recognizes the need for it to comment on the final draft proposals from the IANA stewardship transition coordination group and the ICANN accountability working group before the public comment periods.
2. Safeguard Advice Applicable to all new gTLDs and Category 1 (consumer protection, sensitive strings and regulated markets) and Category 2 (restricted registration policies) strings
a. The GAC advises:
I. the Board to call on the NGPC to provide the GAC with a comprehensive and satisfactory response to the legitimate concerns raised in the Beijing and Singapore Communiqués.
The GAC considers that the current responses offered to the GAC fail to address a number of important concerns, including:
1) the process for verification of WHOIS information;
2) the proactive verification of credentials for registrants of domain names in regulated and highly regulated industries (the relevant Category 1 strings);
3) the proactive security checks by registries;
4) the Public Interest Commitments Dispute Resolution Process (PICDRP), which is not defined as to length of procedure or outcome; and
5) discrimination in restricted TLDs.
In additionThe GAC advises that:
I. the Board to provide its responses to GAC advice at least four weeks prior to ICANN meetings in order to give sufficient time to the GAC to assess and provide feedback on these complicated matters.
These concerns are further clarified in an Annex to this Communique.
The GAC looks forward to the activation of the review panel on promoting competition, consumer trust and consumer choice envisaged in the Affirmation of Commitments.
The GAC notes that the Government of Israel expressed concerns about the potential for discrimination in the operation of .kosher, which Israel will study further.
3. Specific Strings
Consistent with the new gTLD applicant guidebook, the GAC provided consensus advice articulated in the April 11 2013 communiqué that the Dot Connect Africa (DCA) application number 1-1165-42560 for dot Africa should not proceed.
The GAC welcomes the June 2013 decision by the New gTLD Program Committee to accept GAC advice on this application.
The GAC notes the recent action taken to put on hold the ZACR African Union Commission endorsed application due to the Independent Review Panel (IRP) mandated by ICANN Bylaws.
The GAC advises:
1. The ICANN Board to provide timely communication to the affected parties, in particular to provide clarity on the process and possible timelines;
2. The ICANN Board that, following the release of the IRP recommendation, the Board should act expeditiously in prioritising
their deliberations and delegate .africa pursuant to the registry agreement signed between ICANN and ZACR.
The GAC welcomes the NGPC’s acceptance of the GAC advice on .spa.
The GAC reiterates its advice (https://gacweb.icann.org/display/GACADV/2014-03-27-spa) on the issue that “the relevant parties in these discussions are the city of Spa and the applicants.”
The GAC therefore seeks NGPC’s clarification on whether its explanation that “the applications will proceed through the normal process” means it will follow the Applicant Guidebook taking into consideration the GAC advice.
c .wine / .vin
There was further discussion on the issue of .wine/.vin, but no agreement was reached because of the sensitive nature of the matter.
The matter of .wine and .vin was raised at the High Level Governmental Meeting, where some members expressed concerns in terms of ICANN’s accountability and public policy.
These concerns are not shared by all members.
4. Protection of Children
The GAC reiterates its advice in the Buenos Aires Communiqué that new gTLD registry operators should be made aware of the importance of protecting children and their rights consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
5. Protection of Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO) Names and Acronyms
The GAC reaffirms its advice from the Toronto, Beijing, Durban, Buenos Aires and Singapore Communiqués regarding protection for IGO names and acronyms at the top and second levels, as implementation of such protection is in the public interest given that IGOs, as created by governments under international law, are objectively different rights holders; notes the NGPC’s letter of June 16th, 2014 to the GNSO concerning further steps under the GNSO Policy Development Process while expressing concerns that the process of implementing GAC advice has been so protracted; welcomes the NGPC’s assurance that interim protections remain in place pending any such process; and confirms its willingness to work with the GNSO on outcomes that meet the GAC’s concerns.
6. Protection of Red Cross / Red Crescent Names
The GAC refers to its previous advice to the Board to protect permanently the terms and names associated with the Red Cross and Red Crescent, including those relating to the189 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and recalls that the protections afforded to the Red Cross and Red Cross designations and names stem from universally agreed norms of international law and from the national legislation in force in multiple jurisdictions.
a. The GAC now advises, that:
I. the Red Cross and Red Crescent terms and names should not be equated with trademarks or trade names and that their protection could not therefore be adequately treated or addressed under ICANN’s curative mechanisms for trademark protection;
II. the protections due to the Red Cross and Red Crescent terms and names should not be subjected to, or conditioned upon, a policy development process;
III. the permanent protection of these terms and names should be confirmed and implemented as a matter of priority, including in particular the names of the international and national Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations.
The GAC notes that there continue to be range of initiatives being progressed relevant to WHOIS, including outcomes from the WHOIS Review Team and the recently finalised report of the Expert Working Group on gTLD Directory Services. Many of the issues under discussion and analysis have public policy dimensions, including privacy, law enforcement, consumer protection and public safety.
a. The GAC requests that:
I. ICANN make further efforts to explain and clarify the linkages between the full range of WHOIS activity for the benefit of GAC and the community between now and the Los Angeles meeting, to ensure that WHOIS activity adequately reflects GAC’s earlier comments and concerns. ICANN should also consider the implications of short, restrictive comment deadlines for community workload. The GAC suggests that ICANN conduct a session for the community on these issues in Los Angeles.
8. Accountability and Transparency
The GAC was briefed by the Board-GAC Recommendation Implementation Working Group (BGRI) and agreed to specific ATRT2 recommendations being progressed by the BGRI as follows:
o Development of a formal process for the Board to notify and request GAC advice (Recommendation 6.4) – Document current process and seek comment on options for improvements.
o Bylaw changes to formally implement the documented process for Board-GAC Bylaws consultation developed by the BGRI (Recommendation 6.5) – GAC advises the Board that there are no further requests for Bylaws amendments, in light of the new gTLDs, and hence sees no need for Board action on this to be further delayed.
o Regularisation of senior officials’ meetings (Recommendation 6.7) – GAC agrees that regular high level meetings are beneficial, and will examine ways to maximize their benefits and continually improve the way they are arranged and scheduled.
o GAC to use opportunities to provide input to ICANN policy development processes (Recommendation 10.2) – GAC noted that the GAC-GNSO Consultation Group is addressing this.
9. Human Rights
GAC noted the written analysis on ICANN’s procedures and policies in the light of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values, prepared by experts of the Council of Europe. The GAC noted that there is a developing interest in the ICANN community to include human rights issues in future discussions.
10. Protection of Geographic Names in gTLDs
The GAC provided a briefing, led by the sub-group on geographic names of the working group on future gTLD issues, to the community on protection of geographic names in future new gTLD application rounds.
Further work will be done on this matter and new updates will be provided at the next ICANN meeting.