The battle over ownership of the .gay namespace is heating up: a company hoping to maintain it for community good is duking it out with three applicants who want to monetize it.
So far the community-minded applicant is facing an uphill battle. Questions are emerging as to why that is, and if those charged with overseeing the situation are going against their own policies, The Advocate reports.
The non-profit organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for contracting with those operating Internet namespaces. The operators are then responsible for what policies they use to manage those namespaces.
In 2009, dotgay LLC, created by Scott Seitz applied to manage .gay and run it as a resource for LGBTQ groups and organizations around the world. It initiated outreach on every continent and picked up over 250 endorsements from the likes of the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, InterPride and National LGBTQ Task Force.
If dotgay LLC could prove they represented the LGBTQ community, through the Community Priority Evaluation process, they would become the owner of .gay.
They entered into that process in 2014, with ICANN’s third-party contractors, the Economist Intelligence Unit, determining the outcome. They rejected the application, saying they could not show that those groups that supported dotgay LLC were stakeholders of the gay community.
A second evaluation was conducted after a backlash surrounding a lack of transparency or quality control to ensure ICANN’s nondiscrimination policies were upheld.
ICANN’s ombudsman came out in support of dotgay LLC, writing in a statement that the board should “look at the bigger picture” and “grant the community application status to the applicant and put an end to this long and difficult issue.”
It further encouraged them to “take a major step in recognising the role of ICANN in complying with its own policies and well established human rights principles.”
While ICANN defended their decision and stated that their policies were not applicable to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the recent decision Dot Registry v ICANN showed it had violated its own bylaws and articles of incorporation around transparency, fairness, and nondiscrimination by conspiring with the Economist Intelligence Unit on Community Priority Evaluation decisions for .LLP, .INC and .LLC.
If dotgay LLC continues to fail in its attempts to prove they represent the community and should be grated .gay as a result, they will have to participate in an auction against their rivals to determine ownership.