Independent Objector

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The Independent Objector is responsible for determining if a new gTLD application is in the best interest of the Internet community. If not, he or she will file formal objections against a new gTLD application. Alain Pellet, a law professor from the University of Paris and a former member of the United Nations International Law Commission and International Court of Justice, was chosen by ICANN to serve as the sole independent objector for the New gTLD Program in May, 2012. [1]

The position was created by ICANN in accordance with the implementation of the New gTLD Program. As defined, the IO may be an individual or organization and must not be affiliated with any applicant and must carry out their responsibility without bias.[2] An applicant for the position needed to be able to commit for a year, starting April 1, 2012. The individual or organization must be familiar with the internet, the new gTLD program's objection and dispute resolution processes and must have an experience with multinational organizations, awareness of different cultures and be a fluent English speaker and proficient in one other major language.[3]

Along with all other formal objections, any objections from the IO had to be made by March 13th, 2013.[4]


It was stated in November 2011 that the Independent Objector will sign a contract with ICANN and will receive a fair compensation and a budget will be provided to cover all expenses related to the objection proceedings.[5]

In October 2012, Independent Objector launched its own website independently from ICANN. French international law expert Alain Pellet will be the IO, with assistance from Julien Boissise. If necessary, their jobs will be to file Community Objections and Limited Public Interest Objections against new gTLD applications.[6]

IO Objections

The IO filed official objections against the following strings:
Community Objections:

  1. .amazon - Amazon
  2. .アマゾン (Amazon) - Amazon
  3. .亚马逊 (Amazon) - Amazon
  4. .charity - Donuts
  5. .charity - Famous Four Media
  6. .慈善 - Zodiac
  7. .healthcare - Donuts
  8. .hospital - Donuts
  9. .indians - Reliance Industries Limited
  10. .med - Google
  11. .med - Medistry LLC
  12. .medical - Donuts
  13. .patagonia - Patagonia

Limited Public Interest Objections:

  1. .health - Afilias
  2. .health - DotHealth, LLC
  3. .health - Famous Four Media
  4. .health - Donuts
  5. .healthcare - Donuts
  6. .hospital - Donuts
  7. .med - Google
  8. .med - DocCheck AG
  9. .med - HEXAP SAS
  10. .med - Medistry LLC
  11. .medical - Donuts


The IO was only allowed to object to TLD applications on grounds of Limited Public Interest or Community related grounds. In the case of Limited Public Interest, "the applied-for gTLD string must be contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order that are recognized under fundamental principles of international law. The expert panel appointed by the ICC will base its decision on the existence of such a contradiction." The applied for string must threaten an incitement to violence of lawless action, discrimination, child pornography, or "be contrary to specific principles of international law as reflected in relevant international instruments of law."[7]

For the IO to object to on Community grounds the TLD must face opposition or be contrary to a significant portion of a community which it purportedly aims to serve. The IO must determine: That the community is a clearly delineated community; that there is a strong association between the community and the string applied for; there is a strong association between the segment of the community on whose half we objects and the string itself; and he must determine that the TLD would produce a significant material detriment to this sizable portion of the community.[8]

IO on Controversial Strings

In December 2012, Mr. Pellet released his first correspondence on actual TLDs, commenting on so-called "Controversial Applications". Those strings include: .adult, .sex, .porn, .sexy, .hot, .gay, .lgbt, .persiangulf, .vodka, and .wtf. A string seemed to have been deemed "controversial" by Mr. Pellet if it received a substantial amount of objections during the public comment period. He addresses each TLD separately and at length, noting the objection, and turning to International law and precedent to determine whether an objection from his point of view, of defending the public interest, is warranted. In each case he concludes that the objections are not supported by international law and that regional, cultural, and personal issues influence the objections rather than broadly accepted treaties, laws, or international cultural trends. He has reserved the right to later object to the strings, but at that time it was deemed that the "controversial strings" are in fact not offensive to the greater public interest and Internet users.[9]

IO on Closed Generics

The IO weighed in on the issue of closed generic applications, which became a much discussed topic in the ICANN community in late 2013 and early 2013. Prominent members of the community fought for and against the notion that major corporations could acquire TLDs that feature generic terms, such as .book, .cloud, .jewelry, .beauty, and use them for solely their own interests, thereby cutting off registration to the general public and their competitors. The IO notes that he was petitioned directly by a number of parties to file objections to these strings, but that he decided not to do so. Reasons for this include; the fact that sometimes generic terms are created from brand or trademarked names, and vice versa; that his powers and scope are intentionally limited and restricted to community objections and those related to limited public interest, and there is little ground for either as closed generics are not strictly a discussion of freedom of expression and generic terms are by definition broad and do not apply to a singular community.[10]


A blog criticized the role and office of the IO and a lack of transparency regarding ICANN's contract with him. Doug Isenberg noted that perhaps the IO was not acting in the Public's best interest, as less than three weeks prior to the close of the objection period it was unclear if the IO had plans to object to any TLDs, and the IO noted that he was not disclosing any of the strings he may object to ahead of time. This created ambiguities for any other group that was weighing an objection given that the office of the IO could not be relied on to disclose its intentions or objections sufficiently ahead of the objection deadline. Mr. Isenberg also takes issue with the fact that ICANN has not published its contract with him and thus his explicit obligations are not known beyond the definition of his role in the applicant guidebook.[11]

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