ICANN Likely to Decide on .XXX This Week

Mar 10, 2010 12:45 PM PST
NAIROBI, Kenya — ICANN this week plans to look into the feasibility of ICM Registry's proposal to sell .XXX domain names and may just decide to vote on a contract with the registrar.

The Internet policymaking group, which is holding its 37th meeting in Nairobi, has slated a discussion on .XXX, among other topics, for Friday.

ICM Chairman Stuart Lawley told XBIZ that a decision that could allow.XXX to move forward is likely.

"We expect them to vote on Friday and, yes, we are in contact with the board," he said.

The discussion, titled "Consideration of the Independent Review Panel Declaration ICM Registry vs. ICANN," is the seventh item on the agenda and will start streaming Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. (PST) here.

If ICANN votes for .XXX, Lawley said that there's a "detailed rollout procedure" included in the draft contract that would allow the sTLD to get off the ground in 180-210 days.

"[An independent review panel] concluded that ICANN should have negotiated a contract on reasonable commercial terms without re-opening sponsorship issues, and that is what ICANN should now do," he said.

"Once a contract is signed we will continue our pre-reservation and begin allocating names," he said. "They should go on general sale to the community approximately six months after that."

Dispute resolution judges, 2-1, ruled last month in favor of ICM agreeing that ICANN's decision to nix .XXX were arbitrary.

"[Arbitrators don't] question the integrity of the ICANN board’s disposition of the ICM Registry application, still less that of any of the board’s members," arbitrators ruled. "It does find that reconsideration of sponsorship criteria, once the board had found them to have been met, was not in accord with documented policy."

Lawley, who is in Nairobi this week for the ICANN meeting, contended last year that reasons ICANN cited as the basis for its denial of ICM’s application were false and pretextual — “a mere cover for ICANN’s bowing to undue political pressure” from the U.S. Commerce Department, which ICM Registry accused of working behind the scenes to kill .XXX.

ICM Registry claimed in more than 1,000 pages of documents that ICANN acted inconsistently with its own articles of incorporation and bylaws.

Lawley's company saw its application to enable .XXX killed by ICANN's board for a third time in March 2007 after three years of planning.

ICM Registry's proposal would make it the gatekeeper for the sTLD, requiring it to monitor registrant compliance with content site-labeling requirements.

The proposal also would require a set of “best practices” to protect children online and fund the International Foundation for Online Responsibility, an independent organization ICM has said it would create if approved.

ICM pledges to donate $10 of the proposed annual fee of $60 for a .XXX domain name to child-protection groups and require users of .XXX to label their content.

The registrar contends that a .XXX proposal has a lot of support among online adult businesses because so many of them — more than 100,000 pre-reservations — sought domain name addresses with the .XXX suffix.

Earlier in the week, ICM Registry sent an open letter to ICANN again showing interest in getting the sTLD off the ground.

"ICM remains committed to the .XXX project, and is eager to work with ICANN to take the steps necessary to launch the new sponsored top-level domain and, in so doing, ensure that the results of the first-ever ICANN independent review process are fully implemented in accordance with ICANN's own core values of accountability, transparency and objectivity," Lawley said in the statement.

ICANN officials at its headquarters at Marina Del Rey, Calif., did not return XBIZ calls for comment or further details on Friday's board meeting in Nairobi.

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