As part of the new gTLD program ICANN provided it would establish an Independent Objector who could file an objection to new gTLD strings or applicants and May 14th 2012 on named Professor Alain Pellet as the Independent Objector (IO).
“Acting solely in the best interests of global Internet users, the Independent Objector may lodge Limited Public Interest and Community objections in cases where no other objection is made to an application that the Independent Objector deems to be objectionable.
“More information about the Independent Objector role can be found in the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook.”
The IO did in fact issue preliminary warning on the following Strings/Applications:
However, the IO has now updated all of his general comments on each of the strings he issued a preliminary warning to, with an explanation of why he didn’t wind up objecting to any of the strings or applications
Take the case for .adult which initially the IO issued a preliminary warning:
“An application that would directly lead to incitement to or promotion of child pornography or other sexual abuse of children would unquestionably trigger a limited public interest objection from the IO. However, it does not appear to be warranted for applications to gTLDs expected to host pornographic materials, which is not contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order and do not not fall upon prohibition under fundamental principles of international law.”
“Therefore, as for his possibility to object on the community ground, the IO is of the opinion that an objection against applications for new gTLDs expected to host pornographic websites is not warranted. Moreover and as specified in his opinion regarding his possibility to object on the limited public interest ground, the IO considers that it is in the interest of global internet users to be able to easily identify websites containing sexually explicit materials before they actually find themselves on the website.”
In the case of .Africa which the objector was concerned not about the string but one of the applicants:
“During his review of the applications for the new gTLD “.Africa”, the Independent Objector (IO) has noted that numerous comments have been posted on the public comments webpage of ICANN. To ensure transparency and address public concerns on those controversial applications, the hereunder comment aims at informing the public of the reasons why the IO does not consider in principle filing an objection.”
“None of the arguments raised by DCA Trust has convinced the IO that an objection on the community ground is not warranted against their application. ”
“Indeed, the applicant failed in demonstrating that it receives support from governments of the geographical region, contrary to the other applicant, Uniforum SA, whose response can also be downloaded on this page.
“More importantly, the IO is still convinced that opposition from a large number of representatives of the African community provides a strong indication that the application could be against the best interests of the above mentioned clearly delineated community.”
“However, it is the public policy of the IO not to make an objection when a single established institution representing and associated with the community having an interest in an objection can lodge such an objection directly. ”
“This does not exclude that the IO deems it nevertheless appropriate to file a community objection in particular circumstances, e.g., if the established institution representing and associated with the community has compelling reasons not to do so, or if several communities are in the same interest and an application could raise issues of priority or in respect to the modalities of the objection.”
In the present case, the IO is of the opinion that the African Union is an established institution representing and associated with a significant part of the targeted community.
“The African Union Commission is already fully aware of the controversial issues and is better placed than the IO to file an objection, if it deems it appropriate.
“For these reasons the IO, who is primarily acting as a “safety net”, does not in principle intend to file an objection on the community ground.”
“IMPORTANT GENERAL REMARK: The applicant DotConnectAfrica Trust deemed it useful to put into doubt my impartiality and independence. I wish to make clear that my inclination not to lodge an objection to their application is by no means the result of what can be seen as an attempt to intimidate me”
On the application for .Army which the IO issued preliminary warning the IO now says:
“FINAL ASSESSMENT: As a result of the initial notice procedure, the IO now considers that the applicant appropriately addresses his first concerns.
As a preliminary point, the applicant argued that “because members of the GAC are capable of issuing GAC Advice and their own objections against these applications, (it does) not understand why (the IO’s) office felt it appropriate to issue its statement regarding a limited public interest objection under these particular circumstances”
“If it is true that, according to section 3.2.5 of the Applicant Guidebook, “absent extraordinary circumstances, the IO is not permitted to file an objection to an application where an objection has already been filed on the same ground”, the IO would like to stress out that an early warning is nothing more than “an indication that the application is seen as potentially sensitive or problematic by one or more governments”. As stated in section 126.96.36.199 of the Applicant Guidebook, “the GAC Early Warning is a notice only. It is not a formal objection, nor does it directly lead to a process that can result in rejection of the application”.
To date and as far as the IO is aware, no formal objection or GAC advice have been filed by a GAC representative. ”
“Moreover, the IO pays great attention to GAC early warnings since they reflect the position of governments, acting on behalf of their citizens. However, he’s not bound by them. Given this representative nature and the level of recognized stature and weight of such warnings, the IO only takes those positions into due consideration.”
“However, it is also important to note the difference in the functions of the IO and a GAC representative. Where a GAC representative expresses an opinion on behalf of its governments and of the citizens of the States, the IO is acting in the sole interest of the public who uses the global internet. It must also be underlined that when the IO explores an early warning, he only considers it as evidence that an application is perceived as highly controversial but he is in no way bound by this position. When taking his final decision on the question to know whether an objection is warranted or not, he does so in full independence and solely in the best interests of the public who uses the global internet.”
“The IO considers that the guarantees presented by the applicant ensure respect for the rights and best interests of the public who uses the global internet. Moreover, the IO notes that if a particular State considers that its own rights and interests are threaten, it is entitled to issue a GAC advice or to file its own objection. Therefore and for all these reasons, the IO is finally of the opinion that an objection on the limited public interests ground is not warranted and that interests of the public who uses the global internet, which the IO represents, are not threaten.”
The IO basically concludes with each and every string and application it issued a preliminary warning on, that he is not going to object either because the GAC can object or anyone else can object or because there was nothing to object to in the first place.
Personally I never understood why the IO would object to .Army but didn’t object to .Navy or a .Airforce but what do I know?
Don’t get me wrong, I have no idea if any of these strings needed to be objected to, nor I’m I advocating that any of them should have been objected to.
I have no idea of how much money the Independent Objector got paid by ICANN to wind up not object to anything but I’m sure I would have not objected to anything for half as much money.