ANA Files Comments in Opposition to ICANN’s GAC Proposal

September 12, 2014

In response to a new and worrisome proposal put forth by the Board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), ANA today filed comments in opposition to this overbroad step by the Board.  The proposal plans to dramatically increase the influence of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) within ICANN.  As it stands today, GAC is a very powerful committee made up of national governments and, usually as observers, UN agencies and other multi-national organizations.  There are currently 137 GAC members and 30 observers.

However, the troubling issue with the proposal is that it would amend the bylaws so that ICANN’s Board would be forced to adopt all GAC advice unless two-thirds of the non-conflicted board members vote to oppose the advice. This overbroad step would give GAC even more influence than it already has, and would significantly impact the multistakeholder model ICANN claims to be using.  In our comments, we point out that ICANN is too frequently influenced by discrete internal constituencies that attempt to advance their own interests and do not always represent the views and concerns of the majority of Internet users.  This problem would only be substantially increased by giving GAC more control than it has now.  

Our letter also acknowledges the fact that governments may at times, especially in the security area, have expertise that is especially useful and should be taken into special consideration.  However, this proposal goes too far in giving GAC an across-the-board preference.  The unintended consequences of this action could be very far-reaching and could adversely impact the future of ICANN.

We strongly urge all advertisers to consider filing comments in opposition to this proposal.  The challenges this change could pose to brands are severe and need to be protected against.  Ensuring that ICANN’s Board knows the impact their proposal would have on advertisers is the only way our interests can be adequately represented in this process.  ICANN is accepting the first round of public comments on this proposed change until September 14, 2014, and reply comments until October 6. Comments can be sent to comments-bylaws-amend-gac-advice-15aug14@icann.org.  Similar to previous proposals from ICANN, it is again vitally important that the advertising industry band together to stop the Internet from becoming a hostile place to advertise and do business.


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