Guest Post: Newcomer Stymied By ICANN and ICC’s Process

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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”

Comments

  1. Jon Schultz says

    Excellently written article. I would need to hear the opposing point of view to have an opinion on some of what you have to say, but you certainly display an intelligence and reasonableness that is conspicuously absent from at least some of ICANN’s policies (i.e. the UDRP process). I wish you the best of luck in dealing with them.

  2. says

    I don’t think ti is well written at all. I don’t understand the author’s main point. Is it objection to all .gay applications, or just one?

    The author conflates ICANN with ICC, who are the folks who hear “Community Objections under 3.2.1 of the Applicant Guidebook (not Community Priority, that is a part of the “Evaluation” process). In any case, it’s no use complaining that “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.” because it actually HAS NO recourse or power over ICE/ICC. It was set up like that on purpose so that ICANNites COULD NOT intervene in an independent objection process.

    Good luck to you with your legal moves, ICANN has many Millions of USD set aside for legal challenges, so I reckon it will be an uphill battle for you.

  3. John Berryhill says

    “Is it objection to all .gay applications, or just one?”

    Just one, and the article is not at all specific as to the grounds for the objection.

    Of course, if one has a gTLD application, one technique for torpedoing a “community” application is that one can always find unrepresentative groups in any community who will gladly cash a check. Mr. Barron is “Chairman Emeritus”, meaning “no longer chairman”, and it is not clear the capacity in which he speaks for an organization from which he resigned after outing one of Rick Perry’s employees and subsequently another leader of this organization complained about “faggots” who were critical of that outing.

  4. says

    Glad I could find this post again to make the point that it appears ICANN has been punked. Despite the sob story Barron presents in this guest post the truth has finally revealed that he was a fraud all along. Turns out that the GOProud organization didn’t even know about Barron’s efforts to derail the only community supported applicant for .GAY and so they wrote a letter to ICANN making it clear GOProud was not aware of or in any way supporting an objection to dotgay LLC. The ICANN decision to finally toss Barron’s suspicious objection in the garbage is at http://www.icann.org/en/groups/board/documents/resolutions-new-gtld-22mar14-en.htm#1.d. Why would a guy who doesn’t represent the voice of an organization waste his time, energy and money to file this objection in the first place? It will be interesting to follow what other information is revealed around this objection in due time, especially if it points back to one of the competing applicants for .GAY.
     

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