Government Advisors Flag New Domain Rules

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By Alexis Kramer

Nov. 8 — A committee of government advisors to the non-profit that coordinates the internet domain name system has alleged that the nonprofit's board of directors didn't respond to previous committee advice before adopting measures on two-character domain names.

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) concern signals an early potential for discord with the ICANN board, a little more than a month after the U.S. government ceded oversight of internet technical functions.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers board Nov. 8 approved rules for domain registry operators to implement to release two-letter domain names. The rules are aimed at avoiding confusion with two-letter country code top-level domains such as .us. Registry operators must, for example, require registrants of such domain names to ensure that they don't falsely imply affiliation with a government or country-code manager.

The board's decision to approve the measures, without having responded to previous Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) advice, “impeded the GAC from having the opportunity to react,” the GAC said in a communique issued Nov. 8 during ICANN's public meeting in Hyderabad, India. The GAC said that the board's decision wasn't in accordance with established procedures.

Consistent With Advice?

ICANN is also requiring registry operators to take reasonable steps to investigate reports of confusion between two-character domains and corresponding country codes. ICANN cited a GAC recommendation issued at the June public meeting in Helsinki recommending ICANN urge registries to engage with GAC members when a risk of confusion is identified.

The GAC asked the board Nov. 8 to “clearly indicate” whether the board's actions were fully consistent with the GAC advice given in the Helsinki communique.

The GAC also called on the board to communicate its position regarding GAC advice “on any matter in due time before adopting any measure directly related to that advice.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

For More Information

The GAC communique is available at

The two-character domain name measures are available at

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