[governance] ALAC's statement on "Global Public Interest" and IOC + Red Cross gTLD Reservation

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at cis-india.org
Thu Mar 15 15:54:41 EDT 2012


On Reserved Names for the Red Cross and IOC

Added by Evan Leibovitch, last edited by Evan Leibovitch on Mar 14, 2012


The ALAC notes with concern the recent activities of the ICANN Board,
its staff, and the GNSO regarding the reservation of domain names
related to the Olympic and Red Cross movements. We object to the poor
precedents these activities set forward both on substance and on process:

On substance, we see no substantial reason to afford to the Red Cross
and the International Olympic Committee protections not available to
other rights holders. Substantial objection procedures were put in place
regarding the gTLD program, well capable of addressing all concerns
about confusion and misuse. ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee
(GAC), which has raised the concerns about these names, indeed has its
own hard-won objection mechanisms in place.

Moreover, there are many in the At-Large Community who believe
specifically that specially entrenched protection of olympic-related
names is against the global public interest. We note that many
legitimate uses of the word “olympic” and its derivatives are used for
airlines, cameras, restaurants, paint, and numerous businesses around
the world with no connection to the Olympic athletic movement or the
IOC. These businesses are not currently seen to be confusing with the
olympic movement, and we believe that needless restriction on these
names -- beyond what already exists -- is publicly harmful.

On process, it is regrettable to see the domain naming policy (a
hard-bargained consensus amongst many stakeholders) being overridden as
a result of a bilateral engagement by the ICANN Board. We accept that
the GAC, in advancing its concerns over these names, was performing its
role according to its members’ wishes. However, the ICANN Board’s
imposition of these wishes upon the community without prior consultation
demonstrates numerous flaws and poor precedents:

    It is our understanding that the scope given the GNSO Drafting Team,
in debating this matter, precluded it from rejecting outright the
proposed changes because the Board had already forced the matter. The
Drafting Team was left in a position of refining -- and indeed
legitimizing -- a Board directive that many community members thought to
be objectionable outright;
    The overriding of broad consensus-based policy based on a bilateral
negotiation calls into question ICANN’s publicly expressed commitment to
maintaining (and indeed strengthening) its “multi-stakeholder model”.
How can ICANN's multi-stakeholder model claims be trusted when the
community consensus can be so easily overridden due to perceived
political expediency?
    The late date of this activity, changing the Applicant Guidebook so
long after its “final” version was published, reduces public confidence
and destabilizes the application process
    Why is this only about generic names? That is, why would
“co.redcross” be subject to pre-restriction but “redcross.co” not? The
uneven and unequal application of such a demand is the source of both
instability and confusion. The debate on such policy should not be
limited to the GNSO, since it is an issue affecting all domain names.

We note many of our concerns about this process have been expressed in
Kurt Pritz’s March 2 letter to the GNSO Drafting Team. We believe,
though, that rather than simply requesting further details and
refinement, staff's concerns call into question the value of the entire

In view of the above, the ALAC specifically advises and requests the
ICANN Board to reconsider its directions regarding the Red Cross and
Olympic names as being ultimately against the global public interest.
This matter should be reviewed with the purpose of giving the ICANN
Board guidance on the global public interest related to making changes
to previously-approved multi-stakeholder consensus.  ALAC further
advises the ICANN Board to leave the Applicant Guidebook unmodified in
this regard . As the body mandated by ICANN to represent the interests
of Internet end-users around the world, we believe that this initiative
damages the credibility of ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model without
providing substantial end-user benefit, but has the effect of creating
new potential sources of public confusion and instability.

Pranesh Prakash · Programme Manager · Centre for Internet and Society
PGP: 0x1D5C5F07 · @pranesh_prakash  · http://cis-india.org

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