This is a guest post by Christopher R Barron, who is the Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of GOProud.
“GOProud is a national organization of gay and straight Americans who seek to promote freedom by supporting free markets, limited government, and a respect for individual rights. We work on the federal level and state level to build strong coalitions of conservative and libertarian activists, organizations and policy makers to advance our shared values and beliefs.”
The following is the post written by Mr. Barron which appears unedited:
“I welcome the long overdue chance to highlight my attempts to participate in ICANN’s new gTLD process.
I am a newcomer to the ICANN world and represent a prominent political group, GOProud, that focuses on supporting free markets, limited government, and a respect for individual rights. We work on the U.S. federal and state levels to build strong coalitions of conservative and libertarian activists, organizations, and policy makers to advance our shared values and beliefs.
We are a gay and gay-allied organization, and as such, attempted to object to dotgay LLC’s “Community Priority” application for .gay via the ICC process as outlined by ICANN.
We were never contacted by dotgay LLC despite the fact that they claim to be engaging all aspects of the “gay community,” since 2009.
I think this is symptomatic of the fact that their coalition largely represents politically liberal, older, affluent, white, gay men. Upon further investigation of their business plans, I was troubled to learn about potential censorship and a regulated registration policy, which are extremely pertinent issues to me and my constituents that believe in free speech and open markets. We represent a political minority within gay and LBT circles, but should not be disregarded within global LGBT dynamics. In fact, this is clearly a misunderstood issue, as surely nobody would ever think that one company could speak for all heterosexual people with a .straight TLD?
For these reasons I endeavored to file a community priority objection on behalf of GOProud with the ICC. My objection was rejected by the ICC due to a technicality–that the 5,000 word limit was exceeded (only when you count all headers and footers).
ICC’s attempts to contact me were never received, and in turn, it disregarded its own procedural rules related to how and when to contact objectors. It was supposed to contact all parties within 14 days of filing, which it did not do, claiming it had received an extension that was never publicly available at the time. I operated under the assumption that my objection was being processed, as their single attempt to contact me failed to deliver while my multiple attempts to confirm my submission went unanswered.
I contacted the ICC on April 4th and 9th to confirm the receipt and, finally, on April 9th they had the gall to respond and acknowledge both of my inquiries while simultaneously dismissing my objection on non-compliance. This is an issue of bias and operational ineffectiveness that is being enforced on me and not on other objectors nor on the ICC itself.
Frustrated and running out of options, I petitioned CEO Fadi Chehadé, Chairman Steve Crocker, and the Ombudsman, Mr. Chris LaHatte. After reviewing the correspondence between the ICC and myself, Mr. LaHatte agreed in a public post to his blog that there was an issue of fairness in the way the ICC threw out my objection on a technicality, while also ignoring its own procedural mandates, and so the Ombudsman argued for the objection to be fully considered.
ICANN’s New TLD Program Committee resolved to send Mr. LaHatte’s opinion to the ICC on July 13th.
The ICC effectively ignored this advice and action until September 19th, when (after more prompting) it promised to review the matter, while simultaneously noting that neither the Ombudsman nor the NGPC has the authority to direct the ICC’s actions.
The ICC denied my objection again on October 2nd.
I have carefully followed the rules in good faith, but the ICC refuses to honor my objection.
Meanwhile, ICANN acts as if it has no recourse or power to see that the unfairness is dealt with, even when its Ombudsman agrees unfairness took place and its NGPC implicitly acknowledged it.
I note that the ICC’s behavior is biased and prejudicial because another objector, the ILGA, objecting to 3 generic applications for .gay and the single applicant for .lgbt, requested an extension on its payment to the ICC, which was granted despite protests from the affected parties.
Not only is the ICC not following and uniformly enforcing its own rules, it is arbitrarily deciding when time frames can be manipulated to the determinant of some and the benefit of others.
I began with only a cursory knowledge of ICANN, but through contact with ICANN legal experts and gTLD applicants, I have learned that this is only one example of the organization’s failure to uphold itself as a transparent, competent, and unbiased steward of the Internet. If new participants are stymied and met with resistance, ICANN will remain under the control of a small group of legal and business interests, which is perhaps the intended plan.
I urge ICANN and those that participate regularly to push themselves to make their processes approachable to those that are not experts on the domain name system, and be more receptive to voices that are affected by what are essentially content decisions, such as delegating .gay as a Community Priority TLD.
I am inclined to seek legal action and am currently talking to legal experts in the space .
I welcome readers’ opinions on the issue and any recommendations for next steps.
Christopher R Barron
Chairman Emeritus, GOProud”