Editor's note: The following letter was initially sent privately to the U.S. government's representatives in ICANN. It asks why they – like all other governmental representatives – are completely absent from an ICANN group discussing the way to handle “sensitive” or “objectionable” top level domain name proposals. So far, I've received no response. The lack of participation by GAC members raises doubts about their commitment to a nongovernmental, multi-stakeholder process in Internet governance. The silence of the US government representatives raises even more serious questions about its commitment to its own Constitutional guarantees of freedom expression, and Secretary of State Clinton's Internet freedom initiatives.
Dear Daniel Weizner, Suzanne Sene and Fiona Alexander:
As you may know the USG's concerns about morality and public order (MAPO) objections to new TLD strings have led to the creation of a discussion list within ICANN. We are trying to come up with an adjustment in the policy; a fairly broad spectrum of ICANN participants are engaged in discussion of this problem. However, we have noticed that no GAC members have joined the list.
The MAPO issue is particularly sensitive and important given the way it converges issues related to freedom of expression, ICANN's legitimacy and the role of the Governmental Advisory Committee in ICANN.
Given GAC's role in this controversy, I see no way that the rest of us can have a productive discussion without the participation of GAC members. Therefore, I am hoping that the US Government will set a good example and join the rest of the community in good-faith discussions of the problems GAC is concerned about and help in the movement toward a solution, and that it will encourage other GAC members to join these discussions.
I am making this request both as a stakeholder within ICANN (Executive Committee member of the Noncommercial Stakeholders Group) and as a U.S. citizen who wishes to see that the U.S. Constitution and U.S. values regarding Internet freedom are protected in this process.
Milton Mueller, Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies