Dear (GAC Representative 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. This proposal contains several troubling provisions involving criteria and processes to select which text strings will be accepted as new gTLDs. These provisions will threaten the national sovereignty of individual nations by allowing other countries to block new gTLD strings that are perfectly lawful in another country.
In particular, the draft GNSO proposal provides that any group of countries can halt any gTLD application for any reason. This is highly
problematic, as there are no coherent international standards for morality, public policy, religion or freedom of expression, and this policy would allow the most restrictive governments to veto the establishment of gTLDs that would be perfectly acceptable to other nations.
This policy is both unworkable and unwise. If any group of nations wishes to block a gTLD of which they disapprove, that choice should not be imposed on the rest of the world, where that expression is perfectly lawful. It is further troublesome that this policy might set broader precedents that extend beyond gTLDs in the way the Internet is governed. It sets up ICANN as an authority with tremendous censorship power and obligations defined by the most restrictive policies among GAC members, directly impinging on the freedom of expression and national sovereignty of other countries with less restrictive policies.
It would be dangerous for ICANN to set such a precedent. ICANN should not participate in setting up a dynamic where words in new gTLD strings can be prohibited in countries where they are lawful, simply because they may be controversial in other countries. Representative government needs a clear process of accountability to the broadest possible range of citizens and constituents, and ICANN is not structured to provide that accountability systematically on a global basis. This experiment in global governance is inappropriate, poorly designed, and a threat to democratic processes that have been carefully devised in many nations across the globe.
ICANN’s Noncommercial Users Constituency has proposed amendments to the language in the GNSO proposal that correct the proposed policy’s 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.