CANOGA PARK, Calif.—The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has posted to its Correspondence page a letter from Free Speech Coalition (FSC) Executive Director Diane Duke expressing the trade association’s continuing opposition to ICM Registry’s application to run a sponsored dot XXX top-level domain. The missive was sent March 23 and reiterates FSC's long-standing resistance to the application that dates back to 2004.
The current ICANN Board of Directors—most of whom are different from the board that voted in 2007 to reject the ICM application—voted unanimously March 12 at the Nairobi meeting to set aside a final decision until after ICANN CEO and president Rod Beckstrom and general counsel John Jeffrey have developed a new process through which to resolve the ICM application and the public has had a chance to weigh in on it. A vote on the as-yet-unannounced new policy is scheduled for the Brussels meeting in June.
ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley also sent a letter to Beckstrom, dated March 21, that reiterated his position that ICANN should abide by the directive of the independent review panel—convened as part of ICANN’s internal arbitration process—that voted 2-1 on Feb. 19 in favor of ICM, and directed the board to finalize its application. The decision was non-binding, however, and the board decided to pursue the new course described above, a decision Lawley claims in his March 21 will, if followed through upon, will “diminish the legitimacy of ICANN’s accountability process.”
Lawley also rejected the idea that ICANN scrap the ICM sTLD application in favor of a process consistent with the new gTLD paradigm.
“We understand that some have suggested ICM’s registry agreement should reflect the registry agreement template contained in the Draft Applicant Guidebook for the new gTLD round,” he wrote. “There is no principled reason for this. As stated above, ICM applied under the rules for the 2004 sTLD round, and its registry agreement should reflect those rules.”
The complete FSC letter is, as follows:
Dear Mr. Beckstrom and Mr. Jeffrey,
My name is Diane Duke and I am the Executive Director of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the trade association of the adult entertainment industry. Although we have a number of national and international members, we are based in Los Angeles, California.
I am writing as you consider transparent process options for ICM’s .XXX sTLD. I was present at the 2007 meeting in Lisbon and although it was before my time at FSC, our trade association had representation at the Wellington meeting in 2006 as well. In both cases, FSC could not have been clearer that the adult entertainment industry not only opposes the ICM Registry application, but also believes that such a TLD would be detrimental to the industry as a whole. Moreover, at the 2007 meeting we were told that while a number of countries opposed the creation of this sponsored top-level domain, there were none in favor.
I understand the immense pressure ICANN is under in regards to this decision, including though not limited to longstanding threats of litigation by ICM itself, which also has spent millions in legal fees to push the decision through. FSC does not wish to add to your pressure, but a proposal for a “Sponsored” top-level-domain by a company that is not of the industry, with the added intent to “regulate” an industry it knows nothing about, is simply untenable.
Mr. Lawley asserts that he has the sponsoring community’s support, but he does not. In the interest of transparency, therefore, I highly encourage the board to settle the issue once and for all by going to the actual community to test the application’s true level of support. FSC and the industry would be more than happy to assist you in this process.
However, we also want to stress that the current structure of IFFOR, the sub-organization that would set policies for all .XXX domains, is wholly unacceptable to FSC no matter the final verdict regarding sponsorship. Our resolute position is that no self-respecting industry would ever agree to have a minority voice on a board tasked with setting critical policies for its members.
FSC and its members are very supportive of ICANN’s efforts to encourage and maintain a robust internet, and we welcome the opportunity to work with you on this issue and future endeavors. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if FSC can help in any way.