opinion

.XXX Update From Front Lines

Diane Duke
When Jeffrey Douglas and I traveled to the ICANN Conference in Cartagena, Colombia, to oppose .XXX our attention was focused on the opposition from ICANN’s own Government Advisory Council (GAC). We brought letters of opposition from EROS, AITA and the top Alexa-rated adult companies. Opposition from the sponsorship community had been established and from ICANN Board member comments at the meeting in Brussels it was clear that they understand the level of opposition. However, we will keep reminding them that entering into a contract with ICM would be detrimental to our industry, ICANN and the internet community as a whole.

In its Wellington Communiqué, GAC stated its concerns:

“ICM Registry promised a range of public interest benefits as part of its bid to operate the .xxx domain. To GAC’s knowledge, these undertakings have not yet been included as ICM obligations in the proposed .XXX Registry Agreement negotiated with ICANN.”

ICM’s promises concerning public interests are impossible to meet while still adhering to ICANN’s mission.

For example, a man who had emigrated from Iran to Canada reportedly ran a legal adult website. Upon his return to Iran to visit his sick father he was arrested by Iranian officials. On Dec. 6 he was sentenced to death for operating an adult website in Canada.

The first two promises addressed by GAC in ICM’s public policy aspects address this issue:

1. Take appropriate measures to restrict access to illegal and offensive content;

What is illegal and offensive in Iran is not in Canada. It is impossible for ICM to determine what is lawful and offensive for the worldwide web.

2. Maintain accurate details of registrants and assist law enforcement agencies to identify and contact the owners of particular websites, if need be;

Will ICM provide information to the Iranian government?

Additional public interest benefits claimed by ICM and questioned by GAC include:

3. Support the development of tools and programs to protect vulnerable members of the community;

Child protection advocates state that .XXX will do nothing to protect children and conversely a .XXX sTLD would make it easier for children to find adult material.

4. And finally, act to ensure the protection of intellectual property and trademark rights, personal names, country names, names of historical, cultural and religious significance and names of geographic identifiers drawing on best practices in the development of registration and eligibility rules.

ICM promises the adult industry that they can park their domain names by paying a small fee. ICM informed the Intellectual Property Constituency that adult businesses will not have that option. Adult businesses are concerned about their trademark and traffic and equally concerned that ICM so readily lied to them.

The Wellington Communiqué goes on to state:

GAC would request confirmation from the Board that any contract currently under negotiation between ICANN and ICM Registry would include enforceable provisions covering all of ICM Registry’s commitments.

It is impossible for ICM to make good on the promises it made in its application and GAC is aware of that fact.

GAC has raised issues at the heart of ICANN’s mission. For the Board to disregard GAC’s advice, repeatedly restated, makes ICANN vulnerable to the problems GAC has highlighted and shows utter disregard for GAC advice and input.

The ICANN Board is required to take GAC advice into consideration or provide a written excuse as to why they ignore it — we will keep you posted as the issue progresses.

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