First insights from the GAC Early Warnings on new Top-Level Domains

Published on November 21st, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Today, the national governments that constitute ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) for the first time publicly voiced their concerns over specific new Top-Level Domain (TLD) applications in the form of Early Warnings.

More than 240 individual GAC Early Warnings were issued in relation to 200 new TLD applications which account for 162 unique strings.

By far the most prolific government to issue GAC Early Warnings was the Australian government with 129. This was followed by Germany with 20 and France 19.

As expected, a large number of the 240 Early Warnings related to closed generic string TLD applications (100 Early Warnings). It appears a number of governments are concerned about brands or entrepreneurs owning a specific generic word and closing the door on public registrations in these namespaces.

Early Warnings were also issued for strings that are linked to regulated market sectors, such as the financial, health and charity sectors.

The continent with the most Early Warnings was Asia Pacific (154), followed by Europe (51) and Africa (30). This is in stark contrast to the distribution of new TLD applications across the globe which saw more than 80% of applicants come from North America and Europe.

Other interesting insights include:

• Amazon (an applicant for 76 new TLDs) has received 27 GAC Early Warnings
• Google (an applicant for 98 new TLDs) has received only 5 GAC Early Warnings
• 19 IDN new TLD applications received a GAC Early Warning
• DotConnectAfrica’s application for .africa received 17 Early Warnings. UniForum SA’s application for .africa received no Early Warnings.
• Despite being very vocal regarding their objections to certain strings, Saudi Arabia cannot participate in the Early Warning process as they are not a member of the GAC.

Below is an image which provides an overview of the distribution of GAC Early Warnings.

A GAC Early Warning is a mechanism by which the national government representatives who comprise the GAC can signal their potential concerns with specific new TLD applications that are controversial or sensitive. Receipt of a GAC Early Warning allows an applicant to be eligible to receive an 80% refund of their application fee.

Many Early Warnings offer remediation steps to be taken by the applicant which may appease any concerns the governments have. However, applicants are not obliged to take any action.

GAC Early Warnings are a pathway to formal GAC Advice to the ICANN Board in April 2013 following ICANN Beijing. GAC Advice requires consensus of the GAC and may indicate that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN. The biggest question moving forward will be how exactly consensus will be reached.  Watch this space!

While many applicants were nervously anticipating the announcement of today’s Early Warnings, the majority of applicants will be pleased with the results. Next hurdle: GAC Advice in April 2013.

By Yasmin Omer
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer at ARI Registry Services

NOTE: Every effort has been made to accurately report the statistics in this blog. However, some statistics may need to be updated with further analysis

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