ICANN Meeting San Francisco: Discussion of Issues Identified by GAC in Regards to New gTLD Program

Representatives from CADNA are attending the ICANN meeting in San Francisco and will be blogging about their observations. Check back here for updates, and follow our tweets @CADNA.

During this two-and-a-half hour session, members of the ICANN Board painstakingly went through each area of contention identified by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) on which the Board still disagrees with the GAC. After presenting each issue, the Board members opened up the floor for comments or questions from attendees. Instead of outlining each issue here, it is more efficient to point readers to the Board’s response, available here, which breaks down each group’s opinions on each issue. 

Again, one of the biggest outstanding issues, complete with multiple sub-issues, is trademark protection in new gTLDs. This session pointed out one of the biggest problems with the ICANN process – it uses “consensus” as a measure of progress. While consensus is positive, it can be (and within ICANN, often is) misleading. On various areas where the Board and the GAC were in total disagreement, certain participants in this meeting argued that the disagreement was not so absolute, but that there were just certain points on which disagreement remains. 

So we reach the root of the problem. Among similar-minded people, consensus is easy to achieve. In other words, in a room full of people who regularly participate in the ICANN process, who are familiar with ICANN’s point of view and manner of operation, it is easy to gloss over the objections made by people outside the ICANN community. The GAC represents not only governments, but their constituencies as well – everyday Internet users and businesses. While some participants have verbalized their disagreement with the ICANN Board’s position of certain issues, the Board and other members of the ICANN community must remember that these are not the only opinions that should be taken into account.

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