Earlier today, we were surprised to discover that the General Counsel of the USA chapter of the YMCA was one of the witnesses at the (anti) gTLD Senate hearing that will be held on Thursday.
The YMCA has never played an active role - in fact any role - in ICANN. So how come their General Counsel is giving testimony over the new gTLD program which has been going on for seven years where there are dozens more qualified people?
The answer is simple: it's the Intellectual Property lobby (again).
The YMCA turned up for the first time at an ICANN meeting at the most recent meeting in Dakar just over a month ago. Incredibly its representative, Michael Carson, immediately became the person in charge of both communication and membership for the newly formed Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC).
Michael's sudden elevation is thanks to the NPOC's chair, Debra Hughes. Debra represents the Red Cross but is viewed by some in the ICANN constituency she represents - the non-commercial stakeholders group - as a Trojan Horse for intellectual property interests.
Debra has been on the main policy body of ICANN - the GNSO - serving as a "non-commercial" representative for the past two years but is now off the Council, leaving the IP lobby without a voice (and ears) in the non-commercial part of the GNSO.
Debra is the Red Cross's IP counsel and sits on the Board of the International Trademark Association.
And would you believe it but Michael Carson is also a lawyer (yes, the YMCA has lawyers too). And a lawyer specializing in, you've got it: intellectual property.