Since ICANN woke up to the very large conflicts between its policies and contracts and privacy law there have been some groups that have been pushing for ICANN to find a swift resolution.
One of the more vocal among them was the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which is made up of representative of governments from around the world.
Now, however, it’s clear that the GAC and its members have realised that priorities have changed.
It’s not surprising.
Pretty much anyone involved in government work at the moment is probably involved in some way with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from trying to juggle their work and their personal lives.
In an email to the EPDP workgroup yesterday the GAC Chair Manal Ismail articulated the concern:
Dear EPDP Team,
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its drastic consequences on governments, organizations, private sector and individuals worldwide, I would like to express our serious concerns, as GAC leaders, that maintaining the current pace of work towards completion of Phase 2 by mid-June could jeopardize the delivery, efficacy and legitimacy of the EPDP’s policy recommendations.
While recognizing that the GAC has continually advised for swiftly completing policy development and implementing agreed policy on this critical public policy matter, we believe that given the current global health emergency, which puts many in the EPDP and the community under unprecedented stress (for example governments has been called to heightened duties for the continuity of essential public services), pressing important deliberations and decisions in such a short time frame on already strained participants would mean unacceptably sacrificing the product for the timeline.
We understand there are budget and human resources considerations involved in the completion of Phase 2 of the EPDP. However, we are all living through a global health pandemic, so we call on the EPDP Team to seriously reassess its course and expectations (be it on the duration of its calls, the turn-around time of reviews, its ultimate timeline and budget) emulating what numerous governments, global organizations, and households are doing to adapt during these challenging times across the world.
Manal Ismail, GAC Chair
on the behalf of the entire GAC LeadershipEPDP mailing list
It’s not a surprising request in many respects, but it’s not a simple one to address. The EPDP group is meant to wrap up its work by June. Its current chair has stated that he will be unable to continue beyond that date. To extend the group’s work further would require asking all those involved to commit to the project for even longer than they’ve already committed to it. And that’s without even delving into the budgetary issues involved.
So what now?
I suspect this will be discussed by the EPDP group and then presented to the GNSO Council for discussion. But if there are budget implications that will also involve other parties being involved.
As for the members of the EPDP group themselves many of them will need to get their employers to agree to their ongoing commitment of time and resources. Not an easy ask especially at the moment.