Just Because Your new gTLD Application Escaped GAC Early Warning Doesn’t Mean The GAC
This week the Governmental Advisory Council (GAC) issued its 242 early warnings.
There seems to be a belief held in the domainer community that the absence of a GAC early warning means that the GAC will not object to a string or an application.
This is what the latest ICANN Applicant Guidebook (dated June 4, 2012)* has to say about GAC early warnings:
“”126.96.36.199 GAC Early Warning
Concurrent with the 60-day comment period, ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) may issue a GAC Early Warning notice concerning an application. This provides the applicant with an indication that the application is seen as potentially sensitive or problematic by one or more governments.
The GAC Early Warning is a notice only. It is not a formal objection, nor does it directly lead to a process that can result in rejection of the application. However, a GAC Early Warning should be taken seriously as it raises the likelihood that the application could be the subject of GAC Advice on New gTLDs (see subsection 188.8.131.52) or of a formal objection (see subsection 184.108.40.206) at a later stage in the process.
A GAC Early Warning typically results from a notice to the GAC by one or more governments that an application might be problematic, e.g., potentially violate national law or raise sensitivities.
“A GAC Early Warning may be issued for any reason.1 The GAC may then send that notice to the Board – constituting the GAC Early Warning. ICANN will notify applicants of GAC Early Warnings as soon as practicable after receipt from the GAC. The GAC Early Warning notice may include a nominated point of contact for further information.
GAC consensus is not required for a GAC Early Warning to be issued. Minimally, the GAC Early Warning must be provided in writing to the ICANN Board, and be clearly labeled as a GAC Early Warning. This may take the form of an email from the GAC Chair to the ICANN Board. For GAC Early Warnings to be most effective, they should include the reason for the warning and identify the objecting countries.
Upon receipt of a GAC Early Warning, the applicant may elect to withdraw the application for a partial refund (see subsection 1.5.1), or may elect to continue with the application (this may include meeting with representatives from the relevant government(s) to try to address the concern). To qualify for the refund described in subsection 1.5.1, the applicant must provide notification to ICANN of its election to withdraw the application within 21 calendar days of the date of GAC Early Warning delivery to the applicant.