The 2nd day of the ICANN meeting in Colombia was highlighted by The Government Advisory Committee (the GAC) open meeting yesterday with the ICANN board.
The room was packed.
Not a seat was avaliable and many people stood and leaned against the walls to hear what representatives of governments from around the world had to say about the new gTLD program and the current “final” Guidebook.
What the crowd witnessed was the GAC giving the ICANN board a good old fashion spanking over the gTLD process.
For those that don’t know, here is how the GAC is described on the ICANN site:
“””ICANN receives input from governments through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). The GAC’s key role is to provide advice to ICANN on issues of public policy. In particular, the GAC considers ICANN’s activities and policies as they relate to the concerns of governments””
So at the meeting yesterday representatives of countries around the world shared their thoughts about the new gTLD process with the ICANN board.
Lets just say the ICANN board got a good working over, as country after country objected to passage of the new gTLD program at this time.
The representative for the UK set the tone for session.
“”We are not satisfied that the benefits from the new gTLD program are going to outweigh the costs”
“Having just received the economic report on Friday is terribly unhelpful to making a decision. There just isn’t enough time to evaluate that report.”
The UK representative who has apparently been lobbied hard by the trademark groups took the trademark groups position:
“”Brand owners have been the most agitated about this new gTLD program”
The solution offered to them, the trademark clearing house, the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS), those “rights protection mechanisms are not effect enough”.
“If your thinking of signing off on the guidebook this week, we do not think you are there.”
“We want to see if happen but i don’t think your there yet”
The representative from Norway also harshly chastised the ICANN Board:
“” The strong voice of UK is seconded.
“We agree we are not there yet”
“We won’t be there until we can understand that the benefits of the new gTLD opportunity for global businesses is greater than the cost to brand owners and those who are going to have to “shove out big time” .
“We need to understand what the opportunities are and mitigate the downside.”
“The brand owners see a tremendous downside.”
“We need to see what the upside is.”
“The representatives have made a consensus and we have not gotten a response to our suggestions we have made, nor any explanation of why this informed advice has been turned down”
“Some the recommendations of the GAC need to be addressed quickly”
The United States echoed many of the comments:
“The benefits (of the new gTLD program) simply have to outweigh the costs”
“We are held accountable and there has to be a return on this investment of the time and money we spend traveling to various destinations all around the world to give our advice”
The US representative then said to the board:
“How will you know when you are there?”
“No rational for the decisions that have been made have been given to us”
No one has drawn the conclusion that we should never do the program.
But there is an undue burden to certain categories (trademark holders) and when you violate the cost benefit ratio you have to increase the burden (which is very hard to do) or reduce the costs.
“The brand holder are the most vocal because its the fear of defensive registrations”
“We need to know the costs brand owners can anticipate”
The representative from Sweden complained that her time and her countries money was being wasted by attending numerous ICANN meetings:
“The Swedish government is concerned that we are traveling all around the world to attend ICANN meetings to give the advice and for that advice to be ignored time and time again is a waste of time and money”
“We are under increased pressure back home to justify all of the travel and all the expenses of attending all of the ICANN meetings.
“That is especially hard to justify when we are repeating the same advice and traveling all over the world to just have our advice ignored.”
“The GAC has been advising icon since 2007 on new gtld program, yet many public policy issues are still unresolved.”
“Now under the program if a government wants to file an objection to an extension that government must pay fees to file an objection, while we are already spending a lot of money to travel to give the advice now.”
“So if we have to pay a fee to object to an extension its not going to go over well at home.”
On geographic extensions if governments wants to file an objection they should be able to” do so without cost, moreover the objection process is overly complicated.”
The representative of the EU complained about the short time frame for taking in all of the documents and information, including the late breaking economic study that seemed to be rushed to publication the day after the US Department of Commerce called out ICANN for not having completed it.
“The economic study need more time to take in.”
“The issues are complex and governments need time to brief its there staff and the heads of their countries.”
Many countries told ICANN that they had to report back to the heads of their respective countries who then needed time to develop a position on issues and all of that takes a lot of time which they are not afforded under now ever short time frames for commenting.
Bottom line to all of this is that the GAC does not believe the new gTLD program as it sits right now is ready to go.
On the other hand I’m not sure they ever will.
Clearly the trademark lobby has done a fantastic job in getting their positions across to the representatives of most major countries around the world to the point where the trademark holders concerns are the biggest concerns expressed by the governments against the new extensions.
If you sat in the meeting you would soon see the desperate need for lobbying and representation from the domainer side of the equation which sadly the industry has failed to support and the that the hard work and hard spending of the trademark group is paying dividends.
The ICANN board is voting on the new gTLD program on Friday.