Inventing special rights in this way de-legitimizes ICANN as a global governance institution. ICANN must learn to respect process & principle in the face of political pressure.
- To: ioc-rcrc-proposal@xxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Inventing special rights in this way de-legitimizes ICANN as a global governance institution. ICANN must learn to respect process & principle in the face of political pressure.
- From: Robin Gross <robin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2012 17:05:43 -0800
RE: Red Cross & International Olympic Committee Request to Ban Others' Use of
Words in Domain Names That They Want for Themselves
Today I write to express my personal disappointment with the way ICANN has
mis-handled this request for special rights to prohibit the use of certain
words in domain names which are desired by politically powerful, but ultimately
Unfortunately, this case represents another clear example of ICANN departing
from its own established policies and stated principles of bottom-up governance
to demonstrate that it is not quite ready to be a legitimate global governance
institution that can be trusted to manage the security and stability of the
domain name system in the public interest. The Board/Staff's imposition of
top-down policy that flies directly in the face of the policy that came from
the GNSO's bottom-up process, and this attempt to manufacture consent to that
top-down policy via this sham of an abbreviated comment period will not go
unnoticed by ICANN's critics for years to come.
Just because the Red Cross (RC) is known for its aggressive fundraising
activities at times of personal tragedy and the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) is a popular sports licensing business does not mean these interests are
legally entitled to such broad and sweeping privileges to block other
legitimate uses of common words. Legal academics contend that certain
international treaties are mis-interpreted by the RC and IOC to convince ICANN
to grant them even greater rights in domain names than what the law actually
provides. But ICANN claims there is no time to listen to legal experts, given
the last minute minute nature of this request from RC and IOC.
Nor has the community ever reached consensus to grant these special privileges,
indeed many voices in the ICANN community continue to object to this attempt to
steam-roll policy from the top-down to achieve political expedience. The
concerns expressed by the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) and members
of the At-Large community throughout this discussion have been entirely ignored
in this steam-roll effort to manufacture consent to what has already been
decided in a behind-the-scenes top-down manner.
As someone who has spent the better part of a decade trying to mobilize global
civil society to engage in ICANN policymaking, I can say with great experience
that cases like this, where ICANN circumvents legitimate process to favor
special interests, are often the reason provided by public interest
organizations to explain why they are not willing to invest their energy in
participating in the so-called "bottom-up" policy development at ICANN.
A more appropriate starting point for this IOC/RC request - and threshold
question in any serious policy development forum - would be for the IOC and RC
to explain why existing protections in new gtld policy are insufficient to
protect their interests. Yet no case has attempted to be made, nor has ICANN's
Board/Staff, Governmental Advisory Council (GAC), or business communities asked
this threshold question of IOC and RC, who are requesting unprecedented rights
based on shaky legal claims.
ICANN's mis-handling of this IOC/RC request will haunt the organization for
years to come. The Governmental Advisory Council (GAC) has further
relinquished its responsibility to protect the public interest, instead acting
merely as a tool for select intellectual property interests without regard for
other legitimate interests. The Board/Staff have shown they are willing to
"make it up as they go along" in order to please the politically powerful,
without regard for the dangerous precedent set for the organization by such
Is there anyone at ICANN who cares about following proper procedure?
Robin Gross, 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