FSC Update From ICANN-GAC Meeting in Brussels

The following dispatch was provided by Free Speech Coalition Executive Director Diane Duke, who is in Brussels at the two-day meeting between the ICANN Board and the Government Advisory Council (GAC).

BRUSSELS, BelgiumMonday’s meeting between the ICANN Board of Directors and the GAC consisted primarily of a clarification of the items about which the GAC and the Board are at odds, as well as an agreement on the process to consider those items. Issues addressed at the opening day meeting involved ICANN’s proposed introduction of gTLDs (generic top level domains), and included procedures for reviewing sensitive strings, market and economic impacts and protection of rights-owners.

The GAC’s U.S. representative, Suzanne Sene, stressed GAC’s concern over the fragmentation of the internet, which would result if governments begin to block top level domains.

“Government blocking of TLDs is a real concern,” said Duke. “My counterpart, Fiona Patten, Executive Director of EROS, in Australia, told me that Australia would almost certainly block .XXX.” Other countries likely to block TLDs include Germany, China and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. government has indicated that it is likely to seek mandates on TLDs.

Duke stressed, “It is clear that a .XXX sTLD is not only bad for adult businesses, but also it is bad for the internet as a whole.”

During a break, Duke also managed to speak with ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom and ICANN Legal Counsel John Jeffrey. During the conversation, she learned when and where issues concerning the ICM application for .XXX will be formally considered.

“Beckstrom and Jeffrey told me that the Board/GAC consultation will take place on March 17, in San Francisco, at the ICANN conference, and that the Board will address the results from that meeting the next day, at their Board meeting,” Duke said.

This week, FSC will publish a series of articles outlining issues surrounding the proposed .XXX sTLD. They will be posted to industry trade websites and publications, as well as to the FSC blog