Governments Put Presssure on ICANN Over gTLDs

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — ICANN has listed 23 areas of continued disagreement over proposed rules for new generic top-level domain names.

ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee, or GAC, met last week in Brussels to decide on such key gTLD issues as trademark protection, malicious conduct, root-zone scaling, economic impact, geographic names and morality-based objections.

But GAC was unable to ratify a set of proposed rules at the Brussels meeting and will continue dialogue at ICANN's general meeting in San Francisco later this month.

ICANN chairman Peter Thrush, in a letter over the weekend to GAC chair Heather Dryden, said that his organization "has made a good faith effort toward narrowing the outstanding issues."

"The clarity gained during these efforts has significantly reduced the amount of work that needs to be done in order to reach agreement on most issues," he said.

"The board looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the GAC in order to conclude the consultation process on the new gTLD program during the Silicon Valley/San Francisco meeting," he said.

The GAC disagreements focus on the question of how much influence government officials, and to a lesser extent trademark owners, will see over the process of creating new domain suffixes. Hundreds of applications for these suffixes are expected later this year, including .gay, .car, .love, .movie and .web.

Governments are pushing to give themselves greater ability to object to proposed suffixes while handing trademark holders more power to monitor new domain names registered under those suffixes.

For instance, Kenya's rep has threatened that some countries "will take another direction--and I can tell you they will just go to the International Telecommunication Union," while China objects to "unilateral control of critical Internet resources," suggesting that the U.N. would be a better fit" for decision-making.

Another point of disagreement is over how the process should aid trademark holders. That could help companies prevent cybersquatting and phishing attacks against their customers. It also could make it more difficult for companies and individuals to do business if they happen to be using a word close to a trademarked phrase.