23 March 2011

Nigeria: ICANN Endorses Dot XXX Amidst Protest

Despite demonstration at the just concluded 40th public meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Northern California, United States, against the registration of dot XXX by the global Internet coordinating body, ICANN as a Sponsored Top Level Domain (sTLD).

Usually, the sponsored Top Level Domain represents a specific community interest, while the sponsor carries out delegated policy-formulation.

Champion Infotech recalls that last Thursday, some participants at the 40th public meeting were led by a California-based Free Speech Coalition (FSC) to a demonstration to drum home their points and awkward plans by ICANN to give dot XXX being proposed by ICM Registry a green light.

Barely 24 hours afterwards, the board of ICANN endorsed dot XXX, saying it met all the required registration details to be so approved.

While approving the ICM Registry application for .XXX, ICANN board noted that following the June 25, 2010 substantial public comments were received number over 700, on the process options available to ICANN to consider the Independent Review Panel's Declaration of February 19, 2010, they accepted in part the findings of the Panel.

"The Board then directed staff 'to conduct expedited due diligence to ensure that: (1) the ICM Application is still current; and (2) there have been no changes in ICM's qualifications,'" part of the resolution made available to Champion Infotech read.

Also, the board stated that ICANN staff performed the required due diligence, that showed that the ICM application remained current and that there have been no negative changes in ICM's qualifications.

Armed with an updated proposed registry agreement which included additional provisions, requirements and safeguards to address the issues that the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and other community members under ICANN had raised in respect to the previously proposed agreement, the proposed registry agreement and due diligence materials were posted for public comment.

ICANN equally noted that in the over 700 comments received, though few of the comments addressed the terms of the registry agreement, no changes to the registry agreement were recommended in response to the comments.

The global internet coordinating body pointed out that on December 10, 2010, the Board agreed with an assessment that entering into the proposed registry agreement would conflict with only three items of GAC advice and directed the staff to communicate this information to the GAC.

Further, the Board determined that it intends to enter into a registry agreement with ICM Registry for the .XXX sTLD, subject to GAC consultation and advice, and thereby invoked the consultation as provided for in ICANN Bylaws section Article XI, Section 2, Paragraph 1(j).

In addition, ICANN led by its chairman, Mr. Peter Dengate Thrush, and chief executive officer, Mr. Rod Beckstrom, explained at a press meeting on Friday after the reading of board resolution, said that in order to facilitate the Bylaws consultation with the GAC, the Board on January 25, 2011, directed staff to forward a letter from the Board to the GAC clearly setting forth the Board's position on how the ICM proposed registry agreement meets items of GAC advice, and setting forth the items of GAC advice remaining for consultation, following which the board on March 16, this year, forwarded a letter clarifying GAC advice on the ICM matter to the Committee.

And having carefully considered comments from the community and the GAC in making this decision, in furtherance of ICANN's mission, the board, according to the Director, Global Media Affairs, Mr. Brad White, has in conjunction with GAC completed a formal Bylaws consultation on those items for which entering the registry agreement might not be consistent with GAC advice.

Hence, he said, the board resolved by authorizing the CEO of ICANN, Mr. Beckstrom or the General Counsel to execute the proposed registry agreement for the .XXX sTLD, in substantially the same form posted for public comment in August 2010.

"The Board's statement is without prejudice to the rights or obligations of GAC members with regard to public policy issues falling within their responsibilities," part of the resolution stated.

However, the agitating group under the Free Speech Coalition led by its Executive Director, Ms Diane Duke, noted the imperativeness of the whole issue by the adult industry professionals mostly of the serious ramifications of this complex issue in what she described as a five-part series, which point out some of the atrocities in ICM's proposal on .XXX TLD, declaring that owning a .XXX TLD may be far more dangerous and detrimental to online business than not.

The adult entertainment industry is certainly no stranger to the use of "child protection" as a pretext to impose unnecessary regulations on it while engaging in direct attacks on the civil liberties of its members. But governments are not the only serial abusers of this hypocritical tactic. ICM also uses "child protection" as one of the fundamental reasons why a .XXX sTLD is needed. It even did so in its application when it made the vague promise to "support the development of tools and programmes to protect vulnerable members of the community."

ICM also promised ICANN's Government Advisory Committee (GAC) that it "will donate $10 per year per registration to fund IFFOR's (International Foundation for Online Responsibility) policy development activities and to provide financial support for the work of online safety organizations, child pornography hotlines, and to sponsor the development of tools and technology to promote child safety and fight child pornography."

There's a problem with ICM's math, however. This is the same ten dollars per year per registration that ICM's Stuart Lawley described and continued to describe quite differently to the adult entertainment community.

Commenting on the development the president, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), Mrs. Mary Uduma, described the approval granted ICM on .XXX as typical definition of endorsement of pornography on the Internet by the coordinating body, especially it having presence on the root of internet, inferring to the TLD.

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