The Government Advisory Committee (“GAC”) published a report last week which objects to numerous new TLDs. The role of the GAC (according to its “Operating Principles“) is to “implement efficient procedures in support of ICANN and to provide thorough and timely advice and analysis on relevant matters of concern with regard to government and public interests.”
Although the GAC has no legal authority to act for ICANN (Principle #6), GAC advice carries weight and must be considered by ICANN according to Principle #46, which states: “[t]he GAC may deliver advice on any other matter within the functions and responsibilities of ICANN, at the request of the ICANN Board or on its own initiative. The ICANN Board shall consider any advice from the GAC prior to taking action.”
That said, ICANN is not obligated to do anything and from some recent statements it does not appear that it will. As reported by DomainIncite.com, ICANN Board Chair Stephen Crocker recently stated: “[a]dvice from governments carries quite a bit of weight and equally it is not the end of the story…”. The full text of the ICANN communique can be found here.
Among the numerous comments/suggestions made by the GAC is one in sec. IV(1)(d)(i) of the communique which requests that ICANN provide “a written briefing about the ability of an applicant to change the string applied for in order to address concerns raised by a GAC Member and to identify a mutually acceptable solution.” This request for a written report on the issue will be interesting to watch.
If an applicant can change the string name after an objection by the GAC the question is how far can the applicant go in re-naming the string? Also, there could be down-the-line effects to the application process – if the change is substantial enough the applicant could conceivably have to go back to square one to make sure it is vetted properly.