ICANN's two most powerful bodies, the GNSO and GAC, are due to approve extraordinary special protections for the Red Cross and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the Internet. But is the decision based on shaky legal advice?
Update: The GNSO has deferred a vote on the issue until a special meeting of the Council in just under two weeks.
Under proposals put forward by the GNSO - ICANN's main policy body - and due to be agreed to by the GAC - the governmental advisory committee, the world-famous international organizations will be given permanent control over their names, as well as any names that are similar to their names, wherever they appear across the Internet.
The basis for this extraordinary level of protection is that both organizations stand apart globally since they have their names protected by treaty and within the laws of a number of countries.*
According to the GAC chair, Heather Dryden, it has carried out "legal research" that "confirms that only the IOC and Red Cross qualify for unique levels of protection". In a letter from Dryden to GNSO chair Stephane van Gelder, it was also noted that: "No other international not-for-profit or non-governmental organizations have been afforded this threshold of protection at both the international and national levels." A full list of the protections granted to both was then provided in a letter created by GAC members.