GAC Communiqué of ICANN 52 Singapore of 11 February 2015

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which represents States at ICANN, plays an advisory role on issues of public policy and the interaction between ICANN policies and the norms of national or international law. At the end of each ICANN meeting, the GAC releases a Communiqué which summarises the latest developments and requests. The last GAC Communiqué was issued on 11 February 2015.

The first series of recommendations concerns mainly safeguards advice applicable to new gTLDs. These protection measures cover two categories of extensions which were established in the Beijing Communiqué.

Category 1 of sensitive extensions raises concerns with regard to the protection of consumers and regulated markets. In its Communiqué of ICANN 51, the GAC has considered that the Registries should verify the IDs of applicants. In the latest Communiqué, it recommends that the NGPC (New gTLD Program Committee) publicly acknowledges the good practices of those Registries which voluntarily checked the identity of applicants. ICANN should propose this initiative to all Registries, in order for the users to have more faith in e-commerce.

The GAC also advises the implementation of an interim mechanism to address security issues. The PICDRP (Public Interest Commitment Dispute Resolution Process) is a resolution procedure for registries in violation of Public Interest Commitments made in their contract with ICANN. The GAC is of the view that the PICDRP should also be modified in order to solve urgent disputes more quickly.

The Category 2 comprises generic extensions which are however intended for restricted use.

It concerns extensions such as <.tires> or <.hotel>. In the Beijing Communiqué of 2013, the GAC identified the generic extensions for which exclusive access should be justified only by a public interest, including <.baby >.

Notwithstanding these recommendations, Johnson & Johnson maintained its application and responded to GAC so as explain how restricted access to <.baby > was in the public interest. According to Johnson & Johnson, a naming space managed by the company and its partners serve the public interest as consumers will no longer be misled by cybercriminals.

In spite of an obvious lack of legitimacy, Johnson & Johnson obtains the right to use the TLD <baby> in a restrictive way. Whilst it is not conceivable to obtain a trademark on the word “baby” to refer to products and services aiming at children, the generic extension <baby> is henceforth managed exclusively by a company with direct interest in the industry.

The GAC considers that it should collaborate with ICANN on the procedure for opening country and territory names included in second level domain names. The Registries operators must reserve these names and may propose:

  • Either the opening of some country names to the public further to an agreement with the relevant Government,
  • Or they may propose a list of names for approval to the GAC and ICANN.

Therefore, the GAC Members will have the opportunity to give their consent.

To be followed…