Beijing ICANN conference focuses on governmental advice

A crucial step in the process to rollout new gTLDs is expected to be taken this week during the ICANN conference in Beijing (China).

Governments are to provide "advice" to the ICANN Board on those applications they take expectation to, in a process that gives ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee's (GAC) de-facto veto power in the new gTLD program.

Since Thursday last week (4 April 2013), government representatives have been locked away in side meeting rooms at the Beijing International Conference Centre where the ICANN meeting is being held. With over 2,100 attendees, ICANN's 46th International Meeting in Beijing is the biggest event in the organization's history and ICANN will expect to finalize the advice they plan to send to the Board on Thursday, 11 April 2013.

This advice is expected in two lots. The first would be "safeguard" advice where the GAC will identify general issues requesting ICANN to pay particular attention to before allowing an application to proceed. Each GAC Member State has been provided the opportunity to make safeguard advice recommendations according to the following categories:

  • Consumer protection;

  • Strings that are linked to regulated market sectors, such as the financial, health and charity sectors;

  • Competition issues;

  • Strings that have broad or multiple uses or meanings, and where one entity is seeking exclusive use;

  • Religious terms where the applicant has no, or limited, support from the relevant religious organisations or the religious community;

  • Minimising the need for defensive registrations;

  • Intellectual property rights particularly in relation to strings aimed at the distribution of music, video and other digital material;

  • Support for applications submitted by global authorities (i.e. Dot Rugby and Dot Baseball);

  • Corporate identifier gTLDs (such as Dot LTD and Dot Limited);

  • Strings that represent inherent government functions and/or activities (like Dot Army, Dot Navy or Dot Airforce).

The second lot is application-specific advice. This has to be unopposed (so one country can suggest adding a proposed gTLD to GAC advice submissions list, but it will only remain there if no other country opposes). The applications that end up on this list are very unlikely to be able to proceed, or would require major redrafting by applicants in order to do so.

NetNames has obtained a tentative list of applications on the GAC advice submissions list. As expected, this is a short list which includes Amazon's Dot YUN and Dot AMAZON (the latter because of a geographic conflict being bought forward by Brazil and other South American countries), DotConnectAfrica's Dot AFRICA, several terms associated with the Chinese geographic names including international hotel Shangri-La's Chinese character application for the string Dot SHANGRILA, and strings linked to government functions (see list above) like Dot AIRFORCE, Dot ARMY and Dot NAVY.

Whilst anxious new GTLD applicants wait on the sidelines, the GAC is expected to convene again tomorrow for a full day to determine which of these proposed "governmental objections" will actually get sent to the ICANN Board. This should be know before the end of the week.


Written by Written by Stéphane Van Gelder (Chairman and Managing Director of Stéphane Van Gelder Consulting Ltd.)

9 April 2013

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