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Summary/analysis of this public comment period

  • To: icm-options-report@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Summary/analysis of this public comment period
  • From: Kieren McCarthy <kierenmccarthy@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 18 May 2010 15:41:20 -0700

As ICANN's former general manager of public participation, I was hired by
ICM Registry to produce an objective summary and analysis of this comment

The Executive Summary of that analysis is pasted below and the whole
summary/analysis is attached as a Word document. If you have difficulty
reading the text or seeing the graphics included, then you can see the full
version online at my website at:
http://kierenmccarthy.com/2010/05/18/summaryanalysis-of-dot-xxx-issue/. Or
on ICM Registry's website at: http://www.icmregistry.com/blog/?p=240.

Thank you

Kieren McCarthy


Summary/analysis of the following comment period:

Report of Possible Process Options for Further Consideration of the ICM
Application for the .XXX sTLD

Date opened: 26 March 2010
Date closed: 10 May 2010

Prepared by: Kieren McCarthy

Executive Summary

The comment period attracted a very high response from the ICANN community,
the Internet community and the general public due to the nature of the
topic. It also generated some press interest. The vast majority of responses
arrived through organized online campaigns.

In overall terms, there was a clear split between those who wish the Board
to accept all findings of the IRP Declaration (“option 1”) and those who
want the Board to adopt the Declaration’s dissenting opinion (“option 3”).
No respondents spoke in favour of “option 2” where the Board accepted in
part and rejected in part the Declaration.
The main argument put forward by those supporting Option 1 was that ICANN
has a duty to follow its independent review process and its credibility will
be damaged if it were to reject the result of that process.

The main argument put forward by those supporting Option 3 was two-fold:
first, that pornography itself is damaging and since the dot-xxx top-level
domain is designed specifically for this sort of content, the Board should
reject its creation; and second, that the dot-xxx applicant, ICM Registry,
had not met the necessary sponsorship requirements for approval.

Affected Parties

Affected parties are taken to be: the dot-xxx applicant, ICM Registry;
members of dot-xxx’s sponsored community; and members of the wider online
adult entertainment industry.
ICM Registry argued that ICANN is obliged to follow “option 1” i.e. to
accept the IRP Declaration in full. It also argued that option 1 itself
includes a number of “unnecessary and inappropriate processes” which go
against the Declaration, ICANN’s own bylaws and international law. It
concluded that the only course open to ICANN is to enter into a registry
agreement with it at the earliest opportunity.

This request for an expedited process in signing a dot-xxx registry
agreement was also put forward by other affected parties, the majority of
whom posted comments through an online campaign organized by ICM Registry.

At the same time, a significant number of affected parties took the opposite
view: that the Board should choose “option 3” and reject the dot-xxx
application, arguing that since they were potential members of the
sponsoring community for dot-xxx but did not want the top-level domain, ipso
facto ICM Registry did not meet the sponsorship criteria for approval.
The majority of the comments in favour of option 3 came in response to two
online campaigns: one by the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), an Adult
Entertainment Trade Association; and a second by the Adult Entertainment
Broadcast Network (AEBN), an adult content provider with a large affiliate
network and an FSC member.

ICANN’s Supporting Organization and Advisory Committees

The At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) and Non Commercial Users Constituency
(NCUC) supplied responses to the comment period.

ALAC noted the thoroughness of the independent review process and requested
that the Panel’s decision be taken into account. It also asked that the
issue be dealt with swiftly and transparently, but did not explicitly
advocate any of the options.

Two of ALAC’s Regional At Large Organizations (RALOs) submitted additional
statements: APRALO (Asia Pacific) said the issue was one of “procedural
justice” and that ICANN should follow its procedures; NARALO (North America)
gave its support to “option 1” and said in addition that ICANN should
approve the dot-xxx application “without further unwarranted process”.

The NCUC argued that the Board should accept the Declaration in full and
prepare to add dot-xxx to the Internet’s root. To do otherwise would
“seriously undermine ICANN’s credibility and raise fundamental questions
about its accountability mechanisms”.

It also argued that ICANN should “focus exclusively on compliance with its
own appeals process” rather than consider the issues of content, free speech
and censorship raised by other commenters.

External Parties
A very large number of comments were received, the vast majority through a
number of online campaigns, both for and against the dot-xxx application.
(See “Broader community and campaigns” for full details.) The campaigns were
organized by the same three groups that have dominated dot-xxx public
comment periods since 2004:

1. Pro-xxx.
Organized by the applicant ICM Registry and its sponsoring organization,
IFFOR. A few hundred respondents representing both the general public and
the adult industry presented a clear preference for “option 1” arguing that
ICANN needed to follow its own independent review process. Many also argued
for an expedited process in approving a contract for the dot-xxx top-level

2. Anti-xxx.
Organized by the Free Speech Coalition (“the Adult Entertainment Trade
Association”), and the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network (AEBN), an
adult content provider with a large affiliate network. A few hundred
respondents within the adult content industry presented a clear preference
for “option 3”. Many argued that the application did not have support of the
adult industry and expressed concerns surrounding the running of a dot-xxx

3. Anti-pornography
Organized by a number of Christian groups within the United States,
including the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America,
Women for Decency, Utah Coalition Against Pornography and PornHarms.com.
More than 10,000 respondents asked for the rejection of the dot-xxx
top-level domain, mostly out of concern for the moral impact of pornography
on society.

Press interest
The nature of the public comment period provoked press interest,
particularly in the technology press.

Articles regarding the comment period appeared in the following outlets (in
no particular order): the BBC, The Register, Domain Name Wire, DomainIncite,
The UWM Post, Tech.Blorge, WorldNetDaily, CircleID, PC Magazine, PC World,
ZDNet, GeekSugar, Silicon Republic, V3.co.uk, The Domains, Xbiz, among

In general, the articles that expressed an opinion came down in favour of
“option 1” and the approval of the dot-xxx application. This opinion was
also largely reflected in comments to the articles from readers and in
online polls.

Analysis and Conclusion
This comment period was characterized by a very large number of
form-responses to active campaigns from a small number of organizations.
This reflects ICANN’s experience with previous comment periods concerning
the dot-xxx application.

Many of the arguments raised during the comment period have been raised in
previous rounds by the same organizations. As such, they may be considered
to have been addressed during the Independent Review Process itself and so
form part of the IRP Declaration.

In particular, the Independent Review Panel specifically reviewed the two
main arguments put forward by those opposed to dot-xxx, namely the moral
nature of content that would be hosted on dot-xxx domains, and the question
of whether the applicant had met the necessary sponsorship criteria.

The controversial nature of adult content has also drawn into the comment
period many thousands of individuals who may have only limited knowledge of
either ICANN or the issues at the heart of the process options paper put out
to review.

Seen overall, there is a clear polarization of views between those who wish
the ICANN Board to approve the dot-xxx application (as well as remove the
additional processes included as part of “option 1”) and those who wish the
Board to reject the dot-xxx application with finality.

The ICANN community itself has expressed a clear preference for the Board to
accept the Independent Review Panel’s majority conclusions and react
accordingly, swiftly and in a transparent manner.

Attachment: icann-public-comment-summary-analysis.doc
Description: MS-Word document

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