Complaint Filed Against ICANN Alleges U.S. Interference With .XXX

Michael Hayes
WASHINGTON — Hoping to shine light on the alleged U.S. government interference with ICANN, and by extension the fate of controversial sponsored top-level domain .XXX, ICM Registry has laid out its case in a 21-page complaint filed in federal court.

The lawsuit, which seeks to reverse three separate denials of requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) made by ICM throughout the .XXX proposal process, names both the U.S. departments of state and commerce, and accuses the departments of improperly redacting information from requested documents or denying access to the documents altogether.

In court papers, the suit alleges in part that “the U.S. government began a concerted campaign to persuade foreign governments to write to ICANN to criticize or seek delay of the .XXX domain.”

The complaint, which calls access to the requested documents “vital,” goes on to allege that ICANN board members were either unaware of the U.S. government’s influence or the extent and reach of that influence.

As XBIZ reported, ICM President Stuart Lawley has stated that U.S. government interference led to ICANN’s recent 9-5 rejection of his company’s bid to proceed with .XXX.

According to Robert Corn-Revere of Washington-based law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, which represents ICM, the FOIA lawsuit is part of a parallel endeavor to resurrect .XXX.

“In addition to the FOIA lawsuit, we’ve filed an appeal with ICANN,” Corn-Revere told XBIZ. “Both processes are intertwined, and we believe that if we can demonstrate to various ICANN board members the extent of U.S. influence, we will be able to get the ICANN board to reconsider its decision.”

While Corn-Revere concedes that this case could be the beginning of lengthy litigation concerning the outcome of the .XXX process, he believes that a resolution should come sooner than later.

“FOIA cases tend to be relatively speedy,” Corn-Revere said.

As for ICANN’s appellate process, Corn-Revere couldn’t give a timetable.