Dear (ICANN Board Member Name),
I am writing to you because I am concerned about the GNSO draft final report on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains, GNSO PDP-Dec05, released 16 March 2007. The policy proposal contains several troubling provisions involving criteria and processes to select which text strings will be accepted as new gTLDs. If accepted, the policy will create an enormous work-load burden and legal liability for ICANN in order to decide which new gTLDs to accept. It is also a recipe for censorship since it would give GAC power to prevent strings for non-technical reasons.
The draft proposal recommends that ICANN staff make preliminary determinations about what strings are against public policy and who the legitimate sponsors of string should be. The ICANN Board will make final decisions under the proposal. The proposal further recommends
that applicants submit business plans, financial data and other information that the ICANN staff and board will evaluate in a subjective manner. Subjective decisions of this nature are systematically more resource intensive than objective, publicly transparent, well-defined standards that leave no doubt as to what to expect in the application process. A well-defined, narrow, technical approval process can be automated to a much greater extent than the highly subjective judgments required by the existing proposal, and will streamline the
process so as to minimize resources necessary to administer gTLD applications.
The proposed policy would ultimately put ICANN at systematic and ongoing risk of lawsuits, both from rejected gTLD applicants and from other parties who might oppose the selection of gTLDs of which they disapprove. ICANN’s reputation is already shaky due to the subjectivity in the current process which is slow, politicized, manipulable and unpredictable, no matter how carefully it is administered. The GNSO proposal further amplifies this unfortunate situation many times over as it expands the number of gTLDs it will establish over time.
In short, the GNSO proposal is seriously flawed as it involves ICANN in matters well beyond its original narrow technical mandate, and it is unnecessary for ICANN to insert itself so deeply in a political process so far beyond its technical mission. The GAC is also not the ideal body to be assigning these censorial powers since any group of countries could veto any gTLD application, regardless of whether it would be lawful in other countries.
ICANN’s Noncommercial Users Constituency has proposed amendments to the language in the GNSO proposal that correct these shortcomings. I urge you to support the NCUC amendments and return ICANN to its proper and justified technical mandate without opening up a Pandora’s Box of political machinations.