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June 25, 2010 10:00am
No Action on .XXX
Source: Free Speech Coalition (FSC)
by: Company Press Release

(BRUSSELS, BELGIUM) -- Internet regulatory organization ICANNís Board of Directors today passed a resolution that instructs the staff to reassess the merits of ICM Registryís application to run .XXX as a sTLD, but serious obstacles to its ultimate passage still exist, and several Board members expressed deep reservations at having to vote on a resolution they did not consider completely accurate.

Essentially, the Board resolved that, although they had not made a determination as to whether they agreed with the findings of the majority of the independent review panel, they would accept and act in accordance with some of the panelís findings.

FSC Executive Director Diane Duke and Board member Tom Hymes are pleased with todayís ICANN Board meeting results concerning the Board resolution regarding ICMís application.

''It is clear that we made an impact,'' said FSC Executive Director Diane Duke. ''ICANN Board members were extremely uncomfortable knowing that no support exists for a .XXX sTLD in the sponsoring community.''

''My feeling is that the Board is painfully aware of ICMís threat to sue ICANN, and was forced to pass a resolution that many of the Board members feel is at odds with the truth. This is not speculation,'' FSC Board Vice President Tom Hymes said. ''At the meeting today, several said as much, and I can only add that I was deeply moved by their courage to do so under the circumstances. I do not fault them for acting to protect their organization, and I believe there are a plenitude of serious obstacles to the ultimate realization of this profoundly flawed application.''

In the Board discussion prior to the vote, a number of Board members commented on why they felt conflicted about the resolution.

Board member Harald Alvestrand kicked off the discussion, saying, ''...effectively this forces me to say that it is in the best interest of the organization (ICANN) and the interest of the furtherance of the organization's goals to act as if something is true that I believe is not, in fact, so. This is a very uncomfortable situation, but I can see no better way to move forward.''

ICANN Board Chair Peter Dengate Thrush then responded, ''Thank you, Harald, for a very concise explanation of the position that I think many board members find themselves in.''

Later, Board member Bruce Tonkin summed up what the next steps in the process would be, ''The first couple of steps of the timing [are] probably more in the control of the ICANN staff and the applicant in that there will be, first, a due diligence stage; secondly, if that due diligence is successful, then there is a stage where the draft contract is reviewed. But, ultimately, the key step then is for the board to decide whether the board feels that contract is in compliance with GAC (Government Advisory Council) advice.''

Board member Katim Touray pointed out that the issue is far from over, remarking, ''as Bruce said, this game has still not played out yet. We still have quite a number of steps to proceed.''

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom voiced his concern, as well, saying, ''While I accept the contribution to ICANN's accountability and transparency provided by the existence and the use of the independent panel review process, I am nonetheless concerned about the determination by two of the three panelists that the ICANN board should not use business judgment in the conduct of its affairs. In my view as CEO, the board must be able to use business judgment in order to protect the global public interest in the coordination of the root of the Internet and the domain name system.''

''I believe that there are two key factors at play here, ''said Duke, ''ICANNís Internal Review Process and looming litigation from the .XXX sTLD applicant ICM.''

ICANN developed an internal review process (IRP) as a mechanism for stakeholders to challenge Board decisions. ICM was the first to use the process, which put significant pressure on the Board to follow the IRPís decision or risk losing all credibility in the process. Also, ICM CEO Stuart Lawley made it perfectly clear that if the application is not approved, ICM will sue ICANN.

''We heard in the Board meeting, and you can read in the transcripts, that Board members are concerned about what is good for the Ďorganization,í Duke added. ''Avoiding an expensive lawsuit and saving face in the IRP process is good for ICANN but as ICANNís CEO pointed out, it may not be in the best interest of the Ďglobal public interestí. In the end, I believe that ICANN will do the right thing.''

The Free Speech Coalition is the national trade organization to the adult entertainment industry. Its mission is to lead, protect and support the growth and well-being of the adult entertainment community.

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