ICANN’s Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights by Monika Zalnieriute

Social Science Research Network logoAbstract: Freedom of expression and privacy are internationally recognised human rights. This paper addresses the privacy and freedom of expression issues that arise in relation to ICANN policies and procedures.

In particular, it explores the corporate responsibility of ICANN to respect human rights. It relies on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Guiding Principles), known as the ‘Protect, Respect, and Remedy’ framework,ii which were unanimously adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011.

This paper sets out the UN Guiding Principles and explains their relevance to ICANN’s policies and procedures on new gTLDs and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). In particular, it examines the ways in which ICANN’s standards and policies governing the ‘sensitive applied-for strings’ fall short of freedom of expression standards, and, furthermore, how the RAA provisions are in breach of data protection best practices and standards.

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