The ICANN Independent objector has concluded that he would not object to DotConnectAfrica’s .africa application. The IO may have also appeared to be overreaching his mandate predetermining DCA’s case before hand.
In his response to the .africa, a gTLD that we have been following closely, the ICANN IO concluded he would not object to DCA’s application and we note some of the key exchanges between the IO and applicant below.
A case of impartiality
The ‘IO’ or Independent Objector has however gave caution where the applicant DotConnectAfrica stated in its response to the IO, that the IO’s “intended action gives DCA Trust the impression that (the IO is) unwittingly acting on behalf of the African Union Commission and/or UniForum, the organization that (he) believes is legitimate to manage the .Africa gTLD”. The IO has responded that “When taking his final decision on the question to know whether an objection is warranted or not, he does so in full independence, impartiality and solely in the best interests of the public who uses the global internet. ”
The IO noted as a “preliminary point, the applicant, DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA Trust), argued that the IO can lodge objections in cases where no other objection has been filed.” and concluded that “Therefore (the IO’s) intention to also file an objection against DCA’s application on community grounds is clearly unwarranted and would be considered superfluous against the backdrop that (he has) already noted in (his) initial assessment “that 17 early warnings have been issued by representatives of the ICANN’s governmental Advisory Committee (GAC)”.
A case of Harassment- multiple objections:
Another issue that he has also noted is that DotConnectAfrica’s reference to the guide book citing ‘multiple objections filed by the same or related parties against a single applicant may constitute harassment of the applicant.’, DCA Trust might be forced to complain to ICANN that it is being harassed and that these objections should be considered superfluous and frivolous and should therefore not be countenanced”.
DCA has received duplicate GAC Early warnings from 16 African governments, as part of ICANN’s GAC Early warning procedures. In a similar response of frivolity as well as illegitimacy to the substance of these GAC Early warnings, DCA has responded to GAC and made its case to the ICANN Board requesting that ICANN does not listen to the GAC filings on .africa and challenged these governmental objections and African Union through the ICANN GAC, stating:
“because this matter is of global import, since governmental representatives and diplomatic observers representing international organization from 5 continents are involved in this matter, and GAC Early Warning Advice notices having been issued in the name of ICANN GAC and about 16 African country governments; we hereby request the African Union Commission to further justify the integrity of the RFP process that it had put in place that led to the selection of UniForum, by publishing for the sake of satisfying openness and transparency in a globally competitive process, the following:
Listing nearly a long list of 10 items, DCA requested that the African Union
“make a full public disclosure of the AU RFP to the ICANN Board and ICANN GAC in order to further substantiate the GAC Early Warning Advice against DCA Trust’s application for the .Africa gTLD name string”.
A case of prejudice
The analysis also notes the applicants complaint that DCA Trust raised the question as to know, if the IO was “already convinced that DCA Trust will not pass the Geographic Names Panel Evaluation, why (has he) bothered to prepare (his) initial assessment?”. Where the IO responds that “he is acting on behalf of the public who uses the global internet and in order to preserve their best interests. With this in mind, the IO has reviewed all applications within the New gTLDs Program.”
And continues that “In light of the fundamental importance of his mission, the IO is of the opinion that he must conduct a very careful review of all applications and equally notify all applicants of his concerns whenever he considers that they could justify an objection, notwithstanding that other procedures exist. Indeed, it is only when taking his final decision on whether he should file an objection or not, that the IO will decide if these other procedures are deemed adequate and sufficient to address his concerns.”
“AU if deemed it appropriate is better placed than IO to file its objection on community ground”
In concluded his assessment, “IO is of the opinion that the African Union is an established institution representing and associated with a significant part of the targeted community. The African Union Commission is already fully aware of the controversial issues and is better placed than the IO to file an objection, if it deems it appropriate. For these reasons the IO, who is primarily acting as a “safety net”, does not in principle intend to file an objection on the community ground.”
A case of impartialiy and independence
However giving a rider that “The applicant DotConnectAfrica Trust deemed it useful to put into doubt my impartiality and independence. I wish to make clear that my inclination not to lodge an objection to their application is by no means the result of what can be seen as an attempt to intimidate me.”
This may all mean that the fact that the IO has already reached the conclusion that he will not object to DCA’s application, thereby frustrating the plans of those who were pushing him to do so. The IO may have also appeared to be overreaching his mandate predetermining DotConnectAfrica’s case before hand.
For full report of the exchanges above as well as request and response by Uniforum, view here.