GAC Continues To Delay New gTLDs While Supporting Trademark Holders

Last week’s meeting in Brussels between ICANN and their Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) regarding the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) was a like a car “wreck” writes Milton Mueller on the Internet Governance blog. And things are not about to get better anytime soon.A reason for partial success writes Mueller is:
The ICANN Board wants to satisfy the GAC (which means, primarily, the US Government) so that it can proceed with the implementation of its policy for adding new TLDs. This meeting allowed it to respond to specific demands made by the GAC and to clarify which concessions it could/would make and which ones it would not. From the GAC’s perspective, they finally got what they crave, which is the full and undivided attention of the ICANN Board. And for a while, GAC’s time in the spotlight made many of these mid-level bureaucrats feel as if they were in the correct “role;” that is, one of exercising their sovereign “right” to make something called “public policy” (despite the fact that none of them are accountable to or elected by the global polity represented by the Internet and its users).But this was superficial as the GAC continued to do the bidding of trademark holders. ICANN, notes Mueller, went through five years of policy making on the new gTLDs and “and two paroxysms of last-minute changes demanded by trademark holders at the end, and another 11th-hour attempt to revise its objection/censorship process demanded by the GAC.”And why did governments behave the way they did asks Mueller. He responds saying the answers are depressing saying “it is not too outrageous to characterize this meeting as a street mugging. Governments and brand owners conspired to hold up and threaten the very existence of a new TLD program at the last minute, in order to extract concessions that were clearly and explicitly rejected by other stakeholders during the normal process.””Governments acted primarily as agents of a few powerful economic interests and secondarily as protective of the narrow institutional self-interests of national governments themselves.”Mueller notes it was obvious that the German and UK governments only listened to the concerns of trademark holders, and that the US government was not much different, but also involved in its own “geopolitical games”.The GAC did the bidding of trademark holders and did its best to continue to delay the process. They also said they could not consult with their governments before the ICANN meeting, further pleasing trademark holders by appearing to delay the process even more.”As far as GAC was concerned, it was not quite ready for such a formal consultation. By this logic, the GAC can delay indefinitely simply by refusing to admit that it is in a consultation until it gets whatever concessions it wants.”The GAC have had plenty of opportunities to have input into the decision on new gTLDs and yet they still claim they need to formally consult with their governments.As Mueller concludes:
“GAC is starting to look less and less like an Advisory Committee and more and more like an emergent intergovernmental organization.”To read Milton Mueller’s posting in full, see:
blog.internetgovernance.org/blog/_archives/2011/3/6/4765358.html