An alliance of 47 countries has called on ICANN to respect privacy and freedom of expression when allocating top level domains.
The Council of Europe (CoE) has no legal power to force ICANN to change its procedures, but does have official observer status with ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).
ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), recently accepted applications for controversial domain names, such as “.xxx” or “.sucks” The CoE says these have clear implications for the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.
The CoE is also concerned that the personal data of domain name holders – such as the name and postal address – is publicly available in the WHOIS online database without adequate safeguards, and that domain registrars can keep this personal information for over two years after the domain contract has expired.
"ICANN, as a private non-profit corporation, should respect international human rights law, notably the UN Resolution 17/4 on human rights and transnational corporations," says the CoE declaration.
When deciding who gets which TLDs, ICANN should ensure that an appropriate balance is struck between economic interests and other interests, such as pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity and the needs of vulnerable groups and communities.
An ICANN decision on some 600 requests for new generic TLDs is pending; these include TLDs such as “.gay”, which several applicants have requested. ®