13 June 2007
ICANN’s Non-Commercial Users’ Constituency (NCUC) submitted the following statement regarding the current draft policy recommendations of the GNSO’s New GTLD Committee.
Excerpt:“… Our overall concern remains that despite platitudes to certain, transparent and predictable criteriaâ€”the GNSOâ€™s draft recommendations create arbitrary vetoes and excessive challenges to applications. There are some for incumbents; for trademark rights holders; for the easily offended, for repressive governments and worst of all, for â€œthe publicâ€. Itâ€™s a wolf in sheepâ€™s clothing. A recipe for irregularity, discretion and uncertainty in the new domain name space.
Among the more troubling proposals is the introduction of criteria in which strings must be â€˜morallyâ€™ acceptable and not contrary to â€˜public orderâ€™ (Recommendation #6). A concept borrowed from trademark law without precedent in the regulation of non-commercial speech. NCUC opposes any string criteria related to â€˜moralityâ€™ or â€˜public orderâ€™ as beyond ICANNâ€™s technical mandate.
Following recent discussions and revisions, the draft now refers , in passing, to â€˜freedom of speechâ€™ rights, but concerns remain that a restriction on certain expression in part of the world will be extended outside that nation, possibly even to the entire world, through ICANN policy. If the GNSO disagrees with NCUC and ultimately include string criteria on morality and public order in its final report, then the recommendations should make clear that ICANN policy on this matter will not be more restrictive than the national law in which an applicant operates.
NCUC remains particularly troubled with Recommendation #20 that would allow the showing of a â€œsubstantial oppositionâ€ to entirely reject an application. It swallows up any attempt to limit string criteria to technical, operational, and financial evaluations. Recommendation #20 violates internationally recognized freedom of expression guarantees and insures that no controversial string application will ever be granted.
NCUC continues to reject Recommendation 11 and an expanded role of ICANN staff and outside expert panels to evaluate string criteria that is not technical, financial, nor operational. …”
Note: (New draft recommendations expected shortly that will reflect changes since 11 May draft and referred in above NCUC statement, particularly Rec. #11 and #20)