ICANN ignores stakeholders


As some of you will know I am an Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online (eNACSO). eNACSO has been trying to engage with ICANN on a number of issues connected with the creation of new top level domains (TLDs). .com, .net. .uk are examples of TLDs and ICANN wants to create many more.

Lots of people are not terribly happy about this move but eNACSO has no objection in principle. Our concerns are more practical. We started raising them well over a year ago and got nowhere. We started again earlier this year. Again we got nowhere. ICANN’s commitment to multi-stakeholderism is plainly not everything they claim it to be. If you are on their circuit you are on their radar, and if you’re not, you’re not.

Next week there is a meeting of ICANN in Argentina. eNACSO decided to write to every observer and member of the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee to ask them if they could get answers to the questions ICANN seem unwilling to give to us. Below is a copy of the letter we sent. Watch this space.

Rome, November 11, 2013

Dear Colleague,

We are not associated with or lobbying on behalf of any organization, individual application or applicant that is currently or has previously submitted a proposal to create a new gTLD.

We are writing to you to seek your support in relation to a number of matters we have been trying to clarify or discuss with ICANN, so far without success. Our most recent batch of correspondence with ICANN on this matter began on July 17, 2013.

The issues we have been raising are entirely focused on proposals for new gTLDs that will lead on to the creation of web sites and online services that are likely to attract perhaps very large numbers of children and young people.

The questions we have asked ICANN broadly are as follows:

  1. Prior to the request being issued for applications for new gTLDs was any consideration given to issues which might arise in relation to applications for gTLDs that would be likely to lead to the creation of domains of interest to children and young people? 
  2. At any point before or during the current consideration of applications for new gTLDs was any advice sought from any persons with specialist knowledge in relation to children’s and young people’s use of the internet and the issues which can arise in relation to that use? If any advice was sought, who rendered it, when was it rendered and can it be published? If no advice was sought was that because the matter was overlooked or was never considered or was a decision taken not to seek advice?
  3. We note that within the gTLD Applicant Guidebook there was no specific reference to any particular considerations which ought to be applied to applications for domains likely to be oriented towards children’s or young people’s interests. Was that intentional? After the applications had been received were applications for such domains treated or considered in any way differently from the generality of applications?
  4. We noted that in the Guidebook and general conditions references were made to the ineligibility of persons who had any of several types of criminal convictions, including sexual offences against children. Has any consideration been given to how applicants’ statements or status in that regard would be verified?
  5. Whilst our substantive questions have never been directly answered we were assured by an ICANN official that further action in respect of several categories of gTLDs was being halted for the time being following a number of queries that had been made by the GAC in Beijing. One of those categories concerned children. Yet we noted, subsequently, that .game had been cleared in Chinese characters. How can these two positions be reconciled?

As ICANN seem disinclined to answer us, perhaps you could speak to your colleagues and find out if they will give you the answers instead. And if they do, obviously, we would be most grateful if you could let us know.

Yours sincerely

eNACSO Executive Board