US Laws Remain Set to Govern Upcoming Multilingual Internet via New gTLDs

By Khaled Fattal
Khaled Fattal

U.S. laws remain set to govern the coming multilingual internet through ICANN's new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) yet the ramifications of this fact if you are Chinese, Arab, Indian, Russian or other are huge as ICANN published its 7th Applicant Guidebook in preparation for its board consideration on June 20th during the Singapore meeting.

To many nations and citizens around the world, especially the non-English speaking communities, this will be seen as a strategically alarming direction for the global Internet. U.S. laws remain set to govern the new gTLDs and the coming multilingual Internet in languages like Arabic, Chinese, Urdu, Cyrillic and many others which these new gTLDs will bring with them in Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs).

The clause on U.S. laws appears on page 27 of the last Guidebook under the heading "Legal Compliance". It remained unchanged, un-discussed, and un-addressed by ICANN since Guidebook version 5 (DAG 5) came out last year despite many official open letters and interventions to ICANN.

Under this rule any applicant or entity whether Chinese, Russian or Arab, and regardless of their nationality, will be screened against U.S. laws and its economic and trade sanction program administered by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. These U.S. Sanctions are imposed on certain countries, entities and individuals that appear on its OFAC's list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the SDN List).

People, entities and countries the U.S. deems undesirable, or who don't meet U.S. foreign policy agenda can be listed. Applicants for any new gTLD in any language that are named on such list will be refused by ICANN per this "legal compliance" clause that invokes U.S laws.

It is worth noting that ICANN had initially stipulated in Version 4 of its Guidebook (DAG4) under the same legal compliance that "Terrorism checks" will be conducted on all applicants while it provided no definitions whatsoever. This was strongly objected for by Chairman Khaled Fattal to ICANN Executives and its board that subsequently led to the deletion of the "terrorism check" from Guidebook 4 by a board resolution. ICANN subsequently replaced "Terrorism Checks" with U.S. laws, OFAC and SDN in versions 5, 6 and now 7, its last.

To read the the full post, click here.

By Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, MLi Group & Producer "Era of the Unprecedented. Visit the blog maintained by Khaled Fattal here.

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance, Multilinguism, Policy & Regulation, New TLDs


Deal with it John Levine  –  Jun 13, 2011 9:13 AM PDT

ICANN is a California not-for-profit corporation subject to both California and United States law. Despite a decade of wishful thinking and fantasy plans to the contrary, that's not going to change. Deal with it.