ICANN has released new information about its crucial negotiations between the Board and its Governmental Advisory Committee over the new gTLD program. They have set the date (28 February and 1 March) and place (Brussels, Square Brussels Meeting Centre) for the meeting. They have also answered the question whether it will be open or not. The answer is Yes.
“The meeting will be open, scribed and streamed live over the Internet.” While it will be possible for the general public to attend and observe the proceedings, only GAC members, ICANN Board members, some staff members and “subject matter experts” will be allowed to speak, however.
What’s more interesting to me is the absence of .xxx from the announced agenda. XXX is actually a bylaws-required consultation, in that the Board has formally resolved, last December, its intention to “enter into a registry agreement with ICM Registry for the .XXX sTLD” and has also noted that this policy is inconsistent with GAC advice. In those cases a consultation is required by the bylaws and if it doesn’t choose to take the GAC’s advice it can move ahead. What is more interesting still, the Board resolution directed the staff “to prepare within five working days a draft process for consulting with the GAC,” and this process was to be used as the model for the GAC consultations on the broader issue that was just announced. So where is that process, and where is .xxx in this process?
The .xxx issue predates the new gTLD program and really has little to do with it. It could and should be cleared up quickly. ICANN's own Board resolution strongly implied that it would be. Once again, even when ICANN tries to be transparent it seems to raise as many questions as it answers.