NCUC Statement on the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook - Independent Objector (IO) process is ripe for abuse and harmful to the global public interest.
Statement of NCUC on the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) supports the prompt commencement of the application program for new gTLDs. We rcognize the guidebook as implementing community consensus, in large. A few elements that deviate from community recommendations cause concern, however we believe these can be fixed within the proposed schedule. In particular, we are concerned that the Independent Objector (IO) process is ripe for abuse and harmful to the global public interest. The IO was a staff created policy that was never discussed let alone approved by the GNSO. We believe that it is entirely illogical that there can be a TLD that no community, religion, government, company, trademark holder, or individual in the world actually objects to – yet is “something we all agree is objectionable” as claimed by staff. Important safeguards to prevent abuse and “gaming” are lacking from the current IO design. For example, there is no requirement that an objection brought by the IO be tied to at least one specific party who claims it will be harmed if the TLD goes forward. Such a requirement is necessary to achieve accountability in the new TLD process. Another feature missing from the IO is transparency. ICANN staff has explained a number of times that the IO is intended to provide a secret means for governments and others to object to a TLD string without having to do so publicly. For a public governance organization with transparency requirements, such a proposal for secret objections cannot stand. If there must be an IO, actual objectors must come forward and be transparent about their role to prevent the new TLD. According the explanatory memo on so-called Morality and Public Order objections, one of the purposes of the IO is “risk mitigation” to ICANN (i.e. a forum to quietly kill controversial TLDs to ward-off ICANN’s ability to be sued in courts of law). We do not support staff’s introduction of “risk mitigation strategy” as ICANN’s primary policy objective. As always, the global public interest with respect to the DNS is ICANN’s primary obligation, not ICANN’s own corporate interest. The IO lacks true independence. The IO is employed by ICANN; likewise the third party contracted to select the experts who will determine the objection is also hired by ICANN, so there is a lack of neutrality on the part of the expert panel since it will have an incentive to agree with the IO (ICANN) who hired it when it handles matters brought by the IO. On the issue of trademarks in the latest DAG, we are troubled by the elimination of sufficient time in which to respond to URS complaints in the latest DAG. Re-working the negotiated community consensus from 21 to 14 days as a timeframe in which to respond is concerning as it provides inadequate protection to registrants, who may be on holidays and unable to find an attorney and respond in a reasonable period of time. We share the concerns expressed in the At-Large Statement on Draft Applicant Guidebook. However, we believe the best course of action is to make the appropriate fixes to the policy to protect the global public interest and go forward with new TLDs in an expeditious manner. Thank you. IP JUSTICE Robin Gross, Executive Director 1192 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 USA p: +1-415-553-6261 f: +1-415-462-6451 w: http://www.ipjustice.org e: robin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx