dotgay LLC, and the application for a community run .gay domain name, has been through the wringer in the last years. The ICANN process is challenging for anyone, especially a small team on a limited budget. The process ICANN built is not easy for small enterprises and is hostile to community applicants. ICANN built a process, contrary to the policy recommendations, to satisfy the interests of large corporations with buckets of money which put smaller players and communities at a disadvantage. The dotgay LLC team has persevered, and despite having been cheated once in its effort to get the prized Community designation, appealed that decision, prevailed, and has been given another chance at evaluation. This second Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) is ongoing and we have every hope that this time they will get it right.
While the second CPE is ongoing, dotgay has initiated a effort to remind ICANN and the community of the work done by the gay community and dotgay LLC together over the last years to establish the .gay gTLD. In the midst of the struggle with ICANN, some of the promise of dotgay LLC has been pushed into the background. While this is normal when struggling for survival, it is important to remember the reasons we are trying to survive.
In the series starting this week, which starts with a piece on The Future of .gay, dotgay will “recap the journey and explore some of the unique features a community .GAY offers, starting with the unprecedented opportunity to create a trusted and gay-friendly Internet space for the gay community.”
While we continue the struggle to get recognition for the gay community as the authority for its own TLD – its own safe place on the net, let’s remember all the reasons for doing so.
This blog has taken a hiatus the last few months. With recent setbacks in the dotgay community application, concentration switched to how to save the community application for .gay. A lot has happen in many areas since the last blog entry. In this entry I want to focus on the issue of ICANN’s Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) treatment of the gay community’s application for .gay.
The community application submitted by dotgay LLC was given a failing evaluation. One I believe was in error. With strong community support, dotgay LLC has filed for a reconsideration of this evaluation. This reconsideration request has been supported by a significant segment of the gay community including: ILGA, NGLCC, Gay Games, and IGLTA. Because of ICANN bylaws, reconsideration can only be based on the process issues. dotgay LLC has built a very good case against a process replete with errors and omissions that justify overturning the evaluation. As an optimist, I sit here looking forward to an ICANN which in 2015 will use its abilities to right a wrong by declaring a passing evaluation. Anything less will compound the injury that is being done to the gay community.
One of ICANN’s greatest deficiencies is the absence of an appeals mechanism that can adjudicate on the merits of a case. The Board has long been asked to create such an mechanism and it has been recommended by the Accountability and Transparency Review Team. The ICANN Board has not yet delivered on this agreed upon goal.
The dotgay LLC case against the ICANN Community Priority Evaluation has merit.
The ICANN CPE judgement argues that the LGBQTIA community overreached when it picked the name .gay. The decision argues that the dictionary says only homosexual men are gay. The ICANN CPE panel decided that L-BTQIA individuals do not belong to the gay community, even though the LGBTQIA community has identified itself, and been identified by others, as the gay community in so many ways. The ICANN CPE evaluation ignores the reality of our community. Beyond the ubiquity of the references to the gay community in the world’s press, we speak of anti-gay legislation, gay rights, gay persecution and gay marriage. The ICANN CPE decision ignores the fact that ‘gay’ is the word recognized in many languages beyond English, where it stands for far more than just homosexual men. It is a name of our community – the minority who are outside of society’s prevalent hetero-norms. It is a name we know ourselves by and a name we are known by. It is the name a confused child looking for help, searches on throughout the world. It is a name that should be used to create a safe and secure environment for our community instead of being exploited for all the profit it could bring.
dotgay LLC has a strong case to make on the merits.
In arguing the merits of the gay community’s case, the community could further remind an appeals panel that the community provisions of the recommended TLD policy were for the support of communities not as a way of defending against communities. The procedures in the Application Guide Book (AGB) that guide every step of the application procedures, did not follow the policy recommendation for support of communities. Rather, the AGB provided methods for those who want to exploit and profit from communities to attack those very communities. The rules were perversely written to give advantages to standard applications that focused on profit and nothing but profit. As members of a endangered community trying to create a safe space for the LGBTQIA community on line, we should expect support from global public interest institutions such as ICANN, not roadblocks.
I expect the Board to overturn the ICANN CPE decision based on the current process based reconsideration request. But if the ICANN Board does not do so, I encourage the community to continue arguing along side dotgay LLC on the merits of our community case in any venue where the case can be heard.
Today during the 27th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council Resolution Resolution HRC27/L27 on Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity was approved. This resolution reaffirms the right of the global LGBTQI population to full human rights and calls for further work in documenting good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
This is another step in the right direction by the international community of nations and is something to celebrate. the chair of the meeting had difficulty containing the euphoria in the chamber.
HRC27/L27/… Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity
The Human Rights Council,
Recalling the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and consequently elaborated in other human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant core human rights instruments,
Recalling also that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
Recalling further that the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action affirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated, that the international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis, and that while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Recalling General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, in which the Assembly stated that the Human Rights Council should be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner,
Recalling also all relevant Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions on combating all forms of discrimination and violence exercised due to discrimination of any kind, particularly Council resolution 17/19 of 17 June 2011,
Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,
Welcoming positive developments at the international, regional and national levels in the fight against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,
Welcoming also the efforts of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the fight against violence and discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
- Takes note with appreciation of the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and the panel discussion held at the nineteenth session of the Human Rights Council;
- Requests the High Commissioner to update the above-mentioned report1 with a view to sharing existing good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination, to present it to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-ninth session, and to report thereon to the Council every two years;
- Decides to remain seized of this issue.
Note: “remain seized” in the final point is a itieral translation of the French “rester saisi” which “gives the mandate to open up the issue again and do more in the future.”
Explanation of Vote: Resolution A/HRC/27/L.27 Rev.1 on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
On behalf of the Republic of South Africa, by H.E. Abdul Samad Minty, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations and other International Organisations at Geneva.
DATE: 26 SEPTEMBER 2014
The belief that no person should fear for their safety or be deprived of their dignity because of their sexual orientation or gender identity explains why South Africa led initiatives leading to resolution 17/19 in 2011 and co-chaired a high level panel on the issue with Brazil in 2012. We have also lent our support for similar resolutions in other multilateral fora.
South Africa has therefore voted for Resolution A/HRC/27. The founding principles of the democratic South Africa’s Constitution state clearly that South Africa is a sovereign democracy founded on the basis of human dignity and the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights. Guided by the principle of supremacy of the South African constitution and the rule of law, the South African government, through section 8 of our constitution is enjoined to promote and respect the rights of all people without distinction of any kind. The rights detailed in section 9(3) of the South African constitution lists the rights that the South African government needs to promote and respect. Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is explicitly prohibited in this section of our constitution.
South Africa is therefore compelled by the supreme law of our country to support a resolution that seeks to reduce discrimination and violence on any basis, including in this case, on the basis of sexual orientation or gendered identities.
Our support for the resolution is in sync with our national values shaped on our own history and experience of discrimination. This history and the struggle against all forms of discrimination has therefore made us, as a people and a country, committed to the principle that no person should be subjected to discrimination or violence based on race, class, sex, religion, gender and as is the case with this resolution, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is the same value base that guides our stance on fighting for equality between countries and why we shall always make our voices heard about exploitation and oppression of people in any form. This includes the oppression of people in the occupied territories of Palestine and why we are committed to the principles of the right to development and for the reduction of inequalities within and between countries.
Having explained our support and vote for the resolution as presented by the core group, we also need to explain why we did not vote for the proposed amendments that sought to revert to the current listing of rights as found in the international law.
The amendments all sought to remove the explicit mention of the term ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ in favour of more general provisions. We considered all of these proposed amendments carefully but found that they were not relevant in the context of this resolution, which seeks to find agreement around a best practice report on measures to reduce discrimination and violence specifically on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The South African government believes that we as a country will benefit from such a report. Despite our enabling laws, people in our country are still subjected to discrimination and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The scale of the violence has resulted in our Justice Department establishing a hate crimes unit to deal specifically with this kind of discrimination and violence.
The same applies as to why South Africa could not support the proposed paragraph (pp9), which referred to existing national laws, customs or beliefs. This clause is not relevant to a resolution that will look at the development of a best practice report on measures to reduce discrimination and violence, which may have to look at the role that policies, laws, religion and customs may play in the very issue that we are trying to address.
The essence of this resolution is to help us all understand what we can do better to protect the lives and dignity of all our citizens. This resolution is in stark contrast to the unhelpful and divisive use of development aid by some countries as a means to shift policies and laws in a select number of countries.
I thank you
The ICANN Policy Development Support Team will provide a Policy Update Webinar on Thursday 2 October 2014 at 10:00 UTC and 19:00 UTC, summarizing policy activities across the ICANN policy development community and the ongoing Transition of Stewardship of the IANA Functions and the ICANN Accountability track efforts.
Please RSVP by 26 September 2014.
Remote participation details will be sent to those who RSVP the week of 29 September 2014.
The presentation is relatively painless and an excellent way to become introduced to the range of issue ICANN is facing at this moment in time.
I recommend it to anyone who wants a quick intro to ICANN issues.
Some of the topics to be discussed include discussions of:
- ICANN Strategic and Operating Strategy
- IANA Stewardship
- ICANN Accountability
- Issues with the new gTLD process
- Metrics for ICANN performance
- Privacy and Proxy Services Issues
- Dispute resolution procedures for NGO (Non Governmental Organizations and IGO (Intergovernmental organizations)
- ICANN’s role in the global Internet environment
- Constituency and Stakeholder meetings of every variety
Meeting can be attended either remotely or in person. For dotgay-community members who live in LA who may be interested in attending, the meeting is open and is free. You just need to register.
Hope to meet some of you there.
Quite a mouthful that one is.
I have recently joined the GNSO‘s (Generic names supporting organization) Discussion Group on New gTLD Subsequent Rounds (DGNGSR). It is a large group, lots of members and lots people who will just be mailing list observers. Observers are welcome.
This is the first formal GNSO discussion group I know of. It was initiated by the GNSO to start collecting issues that should be dealt with before there is another round. I don’t think any of us know yet what a discussion group does other than discussion, and report back to the GNSO about the discussions. Staff is going to collect the issues and we are going to fill out templates about the issues. These will be input to whatever Policy Development Process (PDP) the GNSO may initiate in the future to establish the policies for these subsequent rounds.
My first contribution of issues to the groups discussion were:
- We, those of us at ICANN, did a terrible job of outreach to and inclusion of developing economies in the current round and there must be remediation.
- We did a terrible job of support for communities in the current round and there must be remediation.
- We now have seen emergent categories of gTLD have been well established, e.g. brand tld, city tlds, community tlds, exclusive tld, public service related tlds &c. We need to develop different application procedures per type. And if we are doing rounds, perhaps different rounds for each type.
- We must avoid reusing many of the processes that we are currently defined as they are confusing and they do not meet the first principle of the original new gTLD recommendations – predictability.
- There should not be another general round but rather specific focused rounds. For example the remedial rounds should happen before anything else. And there perhaps other focused round for cities or for brands. Beyond that, I think we should be heading toward a rolling application process, or perhaps rounds of a day to avoid digital archery effects (i.e.. the process by which the applicant with the most technical prowess get there first in a first come first serve situation)
- When there is name contention, the contenders should have the opportunity to negotiate among themselves to take different related tlds: my example being if 3 applicants apply for .bear, one can have .grizzly, one can have .panda and one can have .babybear. This could replace much of the pain that we are seeing in a situation where approximately a third of the applicants still in processing are in contention processing of one sort or another.
As the discussion develops and as I know more, I will write more.
Incidentally, At-Large, the users group at ICANN, also has a group talking about this, and I am participating in that group too. But I just joined last week, so do not know much, other then they seem to care about issues dealing with developing economies and communities too. I will report on that group’s activity here as well.
May seem a bit ironic and painful to already be talking about the next round while the dotgay community waits on pins and needles for the results of the Community Priority Evaluation for dotgay, but that is the way it goes in policy development. If the community wants to be ready when it is time for the next round and we want that round to be supportive of community needs, we need to start working on it now.
The IANA Stewardship Transition process (IST) was discussed extensively both at the the ICANN Studienkreis and and the Internet Governance Forum 2014. The ICANN Studienkreis is a yearly program organized in Europe where high level experts on ICANN issues are brought together to discuss subjects related to Internet governance and the development of ICANN. This year’s meeting was held in Sofia, Bulgaria from 28-19 August. A panel discussion at the Studienkreis included experts from the US government, the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC), the European Regional Internet Registry (RIR) responsible for the assignment of IP addresses to European ISPs and from Verisign responsible for .com and for maintenance of the root zone for the internet. I was privileged to be invited as the moderator of this discussion.
The Internet Governance Forum, is a multistakeholder process that was initiated by the United Nations in 2005 with a 5 year mandate that was renewed for another 5 years in 2009. Each year the IGF holds an annual meeting where they bring together the various stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem to discuss a multitude of issues. This year’s meeting welcomed over 3000 participants from around the world and from all stakeholder groups including Academia, Business, Civil society, Government, and the Internet technical community.
One of the presentations at the Studienkreis was a very stern warning from one of the more senior members of the community, David Maher from Public Interest Registry. His talk on Accountability and Redress has been published on Circleid. This talk did a very good job of expressing the viewpoint of many of the discussants at both meetings regarding ICANN and accountability. It starts out with :
In ICANN circles these days, accountability is the buzz word. Nearly everybody is talking about it. Generally everybody is in favor of it, but that’s where the agreement ends. This paper urges action by ICANN to provide a means for redress of grievances as an essential element of accountability.
He went on to explain the system of redress at ICANN:
Independent third party review was the procedure invoked by ICM. At the time ICM requested review, in June 2008, the standard of review was simple and straightforward:
“Requests for such independent review shall be referred to an Independent Review Panel (“IRP”), which shall be charged with comparing contested actions of the Board to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, and with declaring whether the Board has acted consistently with the provisions of those Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.”
Effective in April 2013, the ICANN Board made a number of significant changes in the standard of review. First, requests for review are now referred to an Independent Review Process Panel (emphasis added). In other words, only the process is subject to review, not the real question whether the Board acted consistently with the ICANN articles and bylaws.
After discussing some of the failures of the approach taken by the Board on the issue of redress, the talk ended with:
The unanimous statement by the constituencies and stakeholder groups making up the GNSO put it clearly:
“The entire GNSO join together today calling for the Board to support community creation of an independent accountability mechanism that provides meaningful review and adequate redress for those harmed by ICANN action or inaction in contravention of an agreed upon compact with the community.
The sentiment expressed at the Studienkreis by Maher was repeated again and again in many different ways in meetings throughout the Studienkreis meeting as well as those held during IGF 2014.
There were several sessions held at IGF 2014 on the IANA Stewardship Transition and on Accountability. Two sessions included a member of the dotgay staff. These sessions have been recorded are are available:
- Accountability in Multistakeholder Governance Regime ICANN
- Main/focus Sessions: IANA Functions: NTIA’s Stewardship
Given the pervasive sentiment that ICANN currently provided weak accountability mechanisms, the discussion on the IANA Stewardship transition circled back to the belief that any plan for transition of the NTIA stewardship for IANA depended on adequate methods of redress and oversight for IANA, and could not proceed unless those issues were resolved. One proposed solution, the creation of a new multistakeholder oversight body was questioned on its accountability attributes. It was asked, “to whom would such a oversight body be accountable,” given that representative structures are still difficult to define in the current multistakeholder model. The problem was termed the infinite regress of accountability. As the discussions went on, suggestions were made for defining accessible methods of binding arbitration to resolve blocking issues. The discussion are ongoing and there are many devils in the design details of any solution. As these discussions proceed, they will be reported on this site. It should be noted that at least two of the operational communities, the protocol parameters and the IP addressing, have argued that their accountability mechanisms are sufficient and do not need to be improved. There are many members of the global community who take issue with this assertion. The discussions continue and there is plenty of opportunity for comment by members of our community.
(It is worth mentoning that the IANA/ICANN issue was but one of the themes discussed at the IGF meeting. Further entries will touch on some of those issues and pointers to some of the better community blogs written on the subject of the meeting will be provided. In the meantime, all of the sessions for the IGF are being made available. More of the sessions are added as time goes on.)
Updates on the Processes
The work has begun on the two parallel but connected processes; IANA Stewardship and ICANN Accountability.
The IANA Stewardship Coordination Group has held several meetings since it was established. It has completed its charter and a request for Transition Proposals and has released a suggested process timeline. It has organized itself around the 3 silos representing the three main IANA functions: Domain Names, IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) and protocol parameters. Each of the operational communities, the solos:
- ICANN cross community working group (CWG) for names such a gTLDs and ccTLDs. A call for membership in this group will go out shortly.
- The Numbers Resource organization (NRO) and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) for IP addresses and autonomous system numbers.
- The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) for protocol parameters
have begun their work on producing their recommendations on various email lists.
Additionally, there will be calls for comments from the global Internet community. The ICG charter is quite specific about how comments will be handled, they will be forwarded to the operational communities for processing. What is less certain is how they will handle cross-cutting solutions that may be offered either as proposals or as comments. When discussed, the answer is of the type: that bridge will be crossed if and when such a cross cutting proposal is offered. Time will tell. The process suggested by the ICG is that those who have ideas for cross-cutting mechanisms participate in all three of the operational group processes. I am currently following all of the efforts and will report on them as they begin to develop their solutions, with particular emphasis on the solutions discussed in the domain name space.
As discussed in an earlier blog on ICANN Accountability, the process of reviewing ICANN Accountability includes several components:
– A Community Coordination Group to work with the cross community group and to develop the recommendations on ways to resolve ICANN accountability problems, especially those that may result from the transition of the NTIA’s responsiblities.
The ICANN community, a union of all of the major ICANN structures, the Supporting Organizations and the Advisory Communities, had sent a letter objecting to the proposal proposed by ICANN. While there were many specific issues with were documented in a separate letter, the main issue was that the process was decided on by the ICANN Board and Staff without adequate consultation with the community. While technically there had been a community consultation as required, the resulting outcome was so different from anything that anyone expected, that a second community review should have been held. After meetings at the IGF between the community and the ICANN senior staff, ICANN staff agreed to open a 21 days comment period, which will end on 27 September. dotgay-community members should feel free to comment on these important issues and questions.
Another process that is ongoing is the Accountability and Governance Public Experts group has begun its work and has put out a call for experts to be considered for membership in the Accountability Coordination Group. Because of the open comment period on the process, they have extended the call until 30 September 2014, so now is the time to recommend experts from the international LGBTQI community who can be considered for membership. The experts need to have expertise in a subset of the following areas:
- Internet Technical Operations
- International Organizational Reviews
- Global Accountability Tools and Metrics
- Jurisprudence / Accountability Mechanisms
- Internet Consumer Protection (including privacy, human rights and property rights concerns)
- Economics (Marketplace and Competition)
- Global Ethics Frameworks
- Operational, Finance and Process
- Board Governance
- Risk Management
- Governmental Engagement and Relations
- Multistakeholder Governance
Nominees to the process need to have time to contribute to the process of making recommendation for ways to improve ICANN accountability.
A public webinar will be held on Monday, 15 September from 14:00 – 16:00 UTC on the Accountability process.