ICANN June 2015: New GAC communiqué from Buenos Aires

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which represents governments in relation to ICANN, published its last communiqué following the ICANN meeting held in Buenos Aires on June 20, 2015.

The GAC issued recommendations regarding the policies underlying domain names and new gTLDs in particular. Here are the highlights:

1/ gTLD Safeguards

One of the subjects broached by the GAC was the safeguard mechanisms of domain names, an issue which it had already raised with the “New gTLD Program Committee” of ICANN (NGPC) during the ICANN meeting that was held in Beijing in 2013.

However, and despite the instructions published in its last 2015 communiqué in Singapore, contracts with new applicants of gTLDs have continued to be entered into without taking into account the GAC recommendations. These recommendations involved requiring the verification of the credentials for domain names registered in highly regulated sectors (such as those concerning children, the environment, health and fitness, education, finance, intellectual property, government functions and professional services).

Nonetheless, certain registries and applicants voluntarily submitted these credentials for verification and validation in line with the recommendations of the GAC.

This shows that satisfactory solutions can be achieved. However, the GAC demands that the NGPC makes its position clear with regard to the implementation of these recommendations.

2/ Recommendations for the NGPC.

In this regard, the GAC also recommends that the NGPC set up a list of commended public interest commitment (PIC) examples related to the verification and validation of domain names used in highly regulated sectors.

These commitments would serve to demonstrate best practice for other gTLD registry operators, and consequently give reassurance to users regarding the good faith of registrants for such extensions.

Relevant stakeholders must be identified and encouraged to set up a list of PICs that could be of relevance to the protection of public interests in each of the new gTLDs related to these highly regulated sectors.

Furthermore, in its communiqué, the GAC also highlighted the necessity for ICANN to create a harmonised methodology to determine the number of abusive domain names in the context of the current exercise of assessment of each new gTLD.

3/ Protection for Intergovernmental Organisations

Finally, and in accordance with a prior communiqué on this subject, the GAC highlights the progress made by the informal “small group” which was created for the development of mechanisms relating to the protection of intergovernmental organisations’ (IGOs) names and acronyms at the top and second level.

The GAC calls upon the small group to meet in the near future with a view to effectively contribute to the development of these mechanisms before the next meeting to be held in Dublin.

This meeting, which is to be held later this year, will shed light on whether the recommendations set out in the last communiqué of the GAC have really been implemented. Stay tuned!