The honest truth is, I am not really sure.
I know that progress was made on the Registrar Accreditation Agreement – and that it will be posted for public comment. I know that the same is true for the Registry Agreement.
I know that there are still a number of implementation details to be ironed-out with regards to the Trademark Clearinghouse and the submission of the 50 previously abused domains.
I know that the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued their Communique, and identified 6 “Safeguards” which should be applied to all New gTLDs, plus 5 additional “Safeguards” which should be applied to regulated or professional sectors. They also advised that a couple of strings (.africa and .gcc ) not be allowed to proceed and that some members had concerns over religious terms like .islam and .halal. Furthermore, they advised that a number of strings such as .shenzhen (IDN in Chinese), .persiangulf, and .guangzhou (IDN in Chinese) should not proceed past Initial Evaluation while further consideration is given. Additionally, the GAC expressed concerns over the confusion that might ensue over singular and plural versions of the same string.
But what does this really all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
Will any of these developments cause delay? According to a recent interview, ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehade stated that the additional comment period for the Registry Agreement will not necessarily delay the New gTLD Program, as ICANN may be able to move forward with pre-delegation testing prior to contracting. In fact, according to Fadi, his “commitment is to clarity and visibility of the timeline of the program” and ICANN will provide that as early as this week.
That said, with so many new demands being made by the GAC, I have a hard time believing that we are still on track. But who knows?
An even bigger question is, what will happen if ICANN chooses not to heed the advice of the GAC.
So many unanswered questions, but such is the norm for ICANN. Frankly, when it comes to ICANN, the more you know, the less clear everything becomes.