ICANN might not renew TAG-Domains accreditation after antisemitic remarks

ICANN gives registrar mini-extension while it awaits Ombud’s determination.

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ICANN has delayed fully renewing the accreditation agreement for TAG-Domains after one of the registrar’s leaders made antisemitic remarks.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, a leader in the intellectual property community in the Middle East, said in a TV interview:

The Jews do not have any ideology. All they care about is money and interests. I had a friend who was a German cabinet member. I once asked him: ‘When Hitler, may God forgive him, carried out the Holocaust, why didn’t he finish the job and kill all the Jews?’ He said to me: ‘It’s the other way around, but don’t tell anyone I said this. He left a group of them on purpose, so that people would know why we carried out the Holocaust. When you would be tormented by them, you would know the reason.

Abu-Ghazaleh is also affiliated with a UDRP provider and a group that hosts an instance of ICANN’s L Root in Jordan.

ICANN has referred the matter to its Ombuds, stating that this violates ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior.

In a letter to TAG-Domains, ICANN noted that the group’s accreditation is set to renew on January 16. Rather than renewing it for a full term, ICANN is renewing it for three months to allow for the conclusion of the Ombuds investigation.

While many people find Abu-Ghazaleh’s comments abhorrent, some in the ICANN community are privately questioning the extension of ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior to speech made outside of any connection to ICANN and the domain name community.

This particular case puts ICANN in a precarious position. Abu-Ghazaleh commented in the heat of a war between Israel, which has generally been backed by the United States, where ICANN is based, and someone in a region that has often opposed the establishment of Isreal.

ICANN seems to understand this to a degree and has alluded to free speech considerations.

It’s possible that an apology from Abu-Ghazaleh would resolve the matter, but I’m not sure that one is forthcoming.

One thing’s certain: ICANN’s interim Ombuds has her hands full.

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