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GAC Advice

The GAC provides advice to the ICANN Board on policy matters where there may be an interaction between ICANN’s policies and various laws, international agreements and public policy objectives. GAC Advice is communicated to the ICANN Board through either a Communique or a formal piece of Correspondence. This area of the website provides you with full access to both types of GAC Advice as well as the comprehensive historical list of GAC advice provided to the Board and links connecting that advice to its outcome using the ICANN Board Advice Registry tool.


ICANN58 GAC Communique

ICANN58 GAC Communique

Copenhagen, Denmark, 15 March 2017

I. Introduction

The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) met in Copenhagen, Denmark from 11 to 16 March 2017.

59 GAC Members and 12 Observers attended the meeting.

The GAC meeting was conducted as part of ICANN 58. All GAC plenary and Working Group sessions were conducted as open meetings.

II. Inter-Constituency Activities & Community Engagement

Meeting with the ICANN Board

The GAC met with the ICANN Board and discussed:

  • 2-character country codes at the second level
  • The ICANN CEO’s response to the questions in the Hyderabad Communiqué concerning mitigation of DNS abuse.
  • Confidentiality of GAC documents.
  • The Board’s new process for considering and processing GAC advice.
  • An update on the dot web auction issue.
  • The facilitated discussion on IGO protections and Red Cross Red Crescent protections.
  • CCWG-Accountability WS2
  • GAC priorities

Meeting with the Generic Name Supporting Organisation (GNSO)

The GAC met with members of the GNSO Council and discussed increased engagement by GAC Members in Policy Development Processes 2-letter country codes at the second level, a proposed cross-community session at ICANN 59 on geographic names, the GAC-GNSO Consultation Group Final Report Implementation Plan and common concerns about workload created by multiple simultaneous PDPs.

Meeting with the Country Code Name Supporting Organisation (ccNSO)

The GAC met with the ccNSO and discussed the ccNSO PDP on a retirement and review mechanism for ccTLDs, the Cross Community Working Group on Use of Country and Territory Names as TLDs, support for the GAC Working Group on Under-Served Regions regarding ccTLD issues, implementation of Bylaws concerning the Empowered Community and ICANN meeting scheduling. It was agreed that an inter-sessional conference calls between GAC and ccNSO be scheduled.

Meeting with the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC)

The GAC met with the ALAC and discussed geographic names, the report commissioned by the Council of Europe on community applications, the survey being developed by the GAC Working Group on Under-Served Regions, the At Large Review and CCWG-Accountability Work Stream topics of joint interest.

Meeting with the Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG)

The GAC met with the Registrar Stakeholder Group of the GNSO and discussed Registrar operations, market developments and mechanisms for dealing with abuse.

Meeting with the geoTLD Group

The GAC met with the geoTLD Group (representing Top-Level domains identifying a city, region, language or culture) and discussed policies on geographic names, cooperation with local authorities and issues with national data protection laws.

Meeting with the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG)

The GAC received an update from the Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) on their activities to make IDN domain names and email addresses, as well as new gTLDs, work seamlessly on all browsers, applications and software programs. The GAC noted with interest that the UASG would be publishing a White Paper on 11 April 2017, and discussed suggestions on how governments can assist with the dissemination of UA information and engage their own departments and local software communities to make their systems UA Ready.

Customer Standing Committee (CSC)

The GAC was briefed by members of the Customer Standing Committee for Public Technical Identifiers (PTI) on the operations of the Committee to date.

Data Protection

The GAC met with data protection officials convened with the assistance of the Council of Europe. The discussion enabled meaningful exchanges on the implementation of data protection principles in ICANN. Participants expressed the need to continue this important dialogue and took note of the proposal of the Chair of the Committee of Convention 108 to provide replies to any questions put to it. The GAC welcomed these exchanges and encourages ICANN to continue the dialogue with data protection authorities to enhance privacy and data protection.

Cross-Community Discussions

The GAC Public Safety Working Group led a cross-community session on DNS abuse mitigation, covering trends in abuse and the need for mitigation; industry responses; and the role of ICANN. The session highlighted new initiatives by ICANN’s Office of the CTO as well as solutions to be explored by the Community towards effective DNS Abuse Mitigation, including leveraging New gTLD auction proceeds where appropriate.

The GAC Working Group on Under-Served Regions led a session that explored options for capacity building and ICANN engagement in developing countries.

III. Internal Matters

New Members

The GAC welcomed Zimbabwe as a new Member. This brings GAC membership to 171 Members, and 35 Observers.

Board-GAC Recommendation Implementation Working Group (BGRI-WG)

The BGRI-WG and the GAC met and discussed the issues of what constitutes GAC advice, clarity of GAC advice and post-Communiqué calls between the GAC and the ICANN Board. Work in these areas will be pursued in the lead-up to the Johannesburg meeting

GAC Working Groups: Updates as reported to the GAC

The GAC Operating Principles Review Working Group agreed to present the GAC with proposed minor amendments to the GAC Operating Principles, including introducing online voting for the upcoming GAC elections, with a view to formalising those amendments according to the procedures outlined in Operating Principle 53. The amended principles will be subject to further review as part of a holistic approach that has already started in parallel. In that respect, the Working Group also agreed to present the GAC with a preliminary list of high-level principles, to be considered as subject headings for a fully revised set of Operating Principles.  The Working Group recommended that the GAC closed its Working Group and that ongoing efforts to revise the GAC Operating Principles could continue within GAC Plenary sessions.

The GAC Under-Served Regions Working Group held two sessions to progress its work and provide updates on various activities as stipulated in its work plan. In order to progress ongoing work, the Working Group Co-Chairs met with:

  • The ccNSO and the PTI to discuss and explore various approaches to the tasks mandated by the GAC for the Working Group to act as the first point of contact for GAC Members experiencing ccTLD delegation and re-delegation issues.
  • The Development and Public Responsibility Department (DPRD) of ICANN to discuss collaboration in developing and implementing a Working Group survey for GAC Members from underserved regions.
  • The Government Engagement, Global Stakeholders Engagement and Security Stability and Resiliency teams of ICANN to plan for the next series of regional capacity development sessions for GAC Members and law enforcement agencies from underserved regions in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Latin America and the Caribbean before the end of 2017.

The Working Group will continue to participate in the following activities:  

  • The new gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP specifically Work Track 1 which is dealing with "Support for Applicants from Developing Countries".
  • Work by the CCT Review on developing country issues.
  • CCWG on New gTLD Auction Proceeds.
  • CCWG Accountability WS2 subgroup on Diversity. 

The GAC Human Rights and International Law Working Group received an update from the rapporteur of the CCWG WS2 Human Rights sub group on preparation of a Framework of Interpretation for ICANN's Human Rights Bylaw. The Working Group also discussed human rights perspectives of the Council of Europe's Report on Applications for Community-based New gTLDs with one of the authors of the report.  

The GAC Working Group on Protection of Geographic Names in New Rounds of New gTLDs reviewed a proposal to establish a set of best practices rules and the possible establishment of a repository of names. It was informed and agreed that there will be a cross-community webinar and a cross-community dialogue session during ICANN 59. The Working Group will engage in these dialogue efforts and will continue working on a possible proposal.

The GAC Working Group on GAC Participation in the NomCom agreed that the Working Group will refine a text on "GAC criteria for NomCom" and share a new version with the GAC before the next ICANN meeting. About the possible appointment of a GAC non-voting member in the NomCom, the Working Group will review legal background and previous experiences in fulfilling this role. This information will be shared with GAC when available and analyzed.

The GAC Public Safety Working Group (PSWG) reported to the GAC on its analysis of the response provided by ICANN to Annex 1 of the GAC Hyderabad Communiqué and proposed a Follow-up Scorecard. It informed the GAC that it will be seeking endorsement of a Draft Security Framework for Registries to Respond to Security Threats, which text was agreed upon with representatives of Registry Operators in Copenhagen. Similar endorsement will soon be sought regarding the upcoming PSWG proposal for a Law Enforcement Disclosure Framework as part of the Privacy/Proxy Services Accreditation Policy Implementation (PPSAI IRT). Regarding the Registration Directory Service (RDS), Working Group volunteers nominated by the GAC to join the RDS Review Team are seeking guidance from the GAC to define the scope of the Review. The PSWG proposed that GNSO suggestions in this matter be endorsed, except for any limitations imposed on matter that may or may not overlap with the ongoing Next Generation RDS PDP. Building upon the meeting of the GAC and the data protection officials, the Working Group briefed the GAC on the balance to be achieved between privacy, the needs of law enforcement and public interests in any future RDS.

Independent Secretariat

The GAC noted that the current contract with ACIG to provide an independent secretariat service to the GAC expires in July 2017 and agreed that the GAC leadership urgently engage with ICANN on its extension. Pledges from GAC members to contribute to the costs of the secretariat have been increasingly numerous but to date not sufficient to maintain the same level of service provided, which implies the need for adjusting the level of service provided in the short term. Further pledges are sought and encouraged as a matter of urgency. In addition, the GAC leadership will work on mid-term solutions with a view of finding sustainable funding arrangements.

IV. Enhancing ICANN Accountability

The GAC continued to work on a series of measures to implement the ICANN Bylaws that came into effect on 1 October 2016. These include the provision of GAC Advice to the Board and procedures for GAC participation in the Empowered Community.

The GAC received an update from Members representing GAC in CCWG-Accountability Work Stream 2 activities, in which they will continue to participate.

In particular, the GAC noted the importance of the jurisdiction questionnaire as a key point of CCWG WS2, and calls on all governments and other stakeholders to respond to it before the expiry of the deadline of 17 April 2017. Other activities of CCWG WS2 also need to be pursued.

V. Other Issues

Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review Team (CCT-RT)

The GAC was briefed by the CCT-RT on the Review Team’s work, including the recently released draft report. GAC Members will review the draft report in detail.

New gTLDs: Substantive Policy Issues

The GAC discussed specific policy issues relevant to possible future release of new gTLDs, including:

  • Community-based gTLD applications: Following the Council of Europe's submission to the GAC at ICANN 57 of their report “Applications to ICANN for community-based new gTLDs: Opportunities and Challenges from a Human Rights Perspective”, a presentation of the report's recommendations was provided by one of the authors. The GAC expresses support for these recommendations going forward for further consideration by the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures PDP Working Group.
  • Support for applicants from developing countries.
  • Geographic names.

ICANN Geographic Regions

The GAC will examine the issue of ICANN geographic regions and consider the issue further at the next meetings.

VI. GAC Consensus Advice to the Board

Reference No. : #GAC-2017-03-15 Protection of the Red Cross and Red Crescent designations and identifiers
Consenus: Consensus met
2017-03-15 Protection of the Red Cross and Red Crescent designations and identifiers

Re-affirming previous GAC Advice for a permanent reservation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent designations and identifiers, the GAC acknowledges the conclusions of the facilitated dialogue held during ICANN 58 on resolving outstanding differences between the GAC’s previous advice and the GNSO's past recommendations to the Board on the protections of the names and identifiers of the respective Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations.

Consistent with the conclusions of the above-mentioned dialogue,

The GAC advises the ICANN Board to:

  1. request the GNSO without delay to re-examine its 2013 recommendations pertaining to the protections of Red Cross and Red Crescent names and identifiers (defined as “Scope 2” names in the GNSO process) which were inconsistent with GAC Advice.



The GAC acknowledges the outputs of the facilitated dialogue on this topic and requests the Board to proceed accordingly without delay.

Reference No. : #GAC-2017-03-15 Mitigation of Domain Name Abuse
Consenus: Consensus met
2017-03-15 Mitigation of Domain Name Abuse

The GAC advises the ICANN Board to:

  1. provide written responses to the questions listed in the Follow-up Scorecard attached to this Communique, no later than 5 May 2017 for appropriate consideration by the GAC before the ICANN 59 meeting in Johannesburg, taking into account that the ICANN President and CEO will act as contact point for the GAC in this matter.



The GAC is seeking to assess the effectiveness of its Advice to the ICANN Board.

Annex 1 of the GAC Hyderabad Communiqué listed a number of questions to conduct such assessment in relation to Advice implemented as part of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement and the New gTLD Registry Agreement.

The GAC is also interested in assessing the contribution of the SSR and Contractual Compliance departments of ICANN to the prevention and mitigation of domain name abuse.

While ICANN responded to Annex 1 of the GAC Hyderabad Communiqué, the information provided was not sufficient to conduct the necessary assessments.

Reference No. : #GAC-2017-03-15 IGO Protections
Consenus: Consensus met
2017-03-15 IGO Protections

The GAC notes that a dialogue facilitated by the Board on this topic has begun between the GAC and the GNSO (including its relevant Working Groups). The GAC expects that these discussions would resolve the long-outstanding issue of IGO acronym protections and understands that temporary protections will continue to remain in place until such time as a permanent agreed solution is found.  Based upon the facilitated discussions up to this stage,

The GAC advises the ICANN Board to:

  1. pursue implementation of (i) a permanent system of notification to IGOs regarding second-level registration of strings that match their acronyms in up to two languages and (ii) a parallel system of notification to registrants for a more limited time period, in line with both previous GAC advice and GNSO recommendations;
  2. facilitate continued discussions in order to develop a resolution that will reflect (i) the fact that IGOs are in an objectively unique category of rights holders and (ii) a better understanding of relevant GAC Advice, particularly as it relates to IGO immunities recognized under international law as noted by IGO Legal Counsels; and
  3. urge the Working Group for the ongoing PDP on IGO-INGO Access to Curative Rights Protection Mechanisms to take into account the GAC’s comments on the Initial Report.


This Advice captures achievements made to date in the facilitated discussions, in the hope that this will be instrumental in resolving this long-standing issue at the earliest opportunity.

Reference No. : #GAC-2017-03-15 2-Character Country/Territory Codes at the Second Level
Consenus: Consensus met
2017-03-15 2-Character Country/Territory Codes at the Second Level

In light of the discussions with the ICANN Board in Copenhagen on the Board Resolution of 8 November 2016 and its implementation of 13 December 2016 regarding two-letter country codes as second level domains,

The GAC advises the ICANN Board to:

  1. Take into account the serious concerns expressed by some GAC Members as contained in previous GAC Advice
  2. Engage with concerned governments by the next ICANN meeting to resolve those concerns.
  3. Immediately explore measures to find a satisfactory solution of the matter to meet the concerns of these countries before being further aggravated.
  4. Provide clarification of the decision-making process and of the rationale for the November 2016 resolution, particularly in regard to consideration of the GAC advice, timing and level of support for this resolution.


The GAC noted serious concerns expressed by some governments about the consequences introduced by the changes created by the 8 November 2016 Resolution. In particular, according to the new procedure it is no longer mandatory for the registries to notify governments of the plans for their use of 2-letter codes, nor are registries required to seek agreement of governments when releasing two-letter country codes at the second level, which, for example, allows registries to charge governments substantial fees.