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Governments Object To Private Bodies Controlling Generic gTLD Terms

The Australian government is the top objector to new generic Top Level Domain applications with a total of 129 objections. Other top complainants are DCA Trust being the top applicant, with their application for .africa receiving 17 objections from governments while .hotel, with multiple applications for the string, receiving 21 objections.The Governmental Advisory Committee is a panel representing 50 of the world’s governments, however how the objections of its member governments impact on the approval of gTLDs is yet to be seen. ICANN, the body who will have the final approval for each new gTLD, is obliged to take advice on public policy issues from the GAC, but it does not have to follow its advice.Objections for generic terms were often based around the premise of whether it was appropriate for a private organisation to have control of a gTLD string and that it was not in the best interests for competition.Some of the comments are to deal with transparency, such as the multiple applications for .hotel, .hotels and .hoteis where the German government has opposed the applications “are common generic terms relating to a market sector. Restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition.”The Australian government’s opposition to all of its strings appear to be the same: that the term “is a common generic term relating to a market sector.” The early warning” notes the applicant “is proposing to exclude any other entities, including potential competitors, from using the TLD. Restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition.”Some of those objected to by the Australian government are applications for .blog, .beauty, (applicant L’Oréal), .baby (Johnson & Johnson), .antivirus (Symantec), .epost (Deutsche Post) and a number of applications from Amazon such as .app and .book.The application for .africa from DotConnectAfrica was objected to by a number of African governments who all appear to have said “UniForum SA, trading as the ZA Central Registry, was appointed the registry operator to manage and administer the dotAfrica gTLD on behalf of the African Community and for the benefit of the African region.”The governments also oppose the application for .africa on the grounds that it:

  • “does not meet the requirements concerning geographic names”
  • “constitutes an unwarranted intrusion and interference on the African Union Commission’s (AUC) mandate from African governments to establish the structures and modalities for the Implementation of the dotAfrica (.Africa) project; and
  • is identical to the dotAfrica (.Africa) application officially endorsed by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the 39 individual African governments.”

The United Arab Emirates objected to the applications for .islam and .halal, raising concerns over a private entities control over a “sensitive name”, a “lack of community involvement and support [and] sensitivity of the name and domain name use policy.”France objected to the applications for .health, raising concerns relating to “consumer protection and the public interest.” The French government says the application for .health should be postponed and that the gTLD would be better operated by an organisation affiliated with the global health community. The Mali government objected on similar grounds.Two of the applications for .rugby were objected to by the British government who said “the applicant does not represent the global community of rugby players, supporters and stakeholders” unlike the International Rugby Board, the global governing body for rugby union, who has also applied.To check out the list of objections for gTLDs by governments, go to https://gacweb.icann.org/display/gacweb/GAC+Early+Warnings.