Your 24,349-signature petition had an impact
You might recall us asking you to sign a petition a while back opposing the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) bid to control the .pharmacy domain. Thank you to all who supported this effort. We gathered a total of 24,349 signatures! Lee Graczyk, lead organizer for RxRights, recently traveled to Los Angeles to present those signatures before more than 1500 attendees at the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Public Forum.
The NABP has a history of rejecting all international online pharmacies and labeling them as rogues. Our concern is that if NABP is in charge of .pharmacy, even the legitimate and licensed pharmacies that 5 million Americans depend on each year to access medicine they can afford will be hidden from consumer view.
For some background, ICANN is an international nonprofit whose mandate is to ensure the security and stability of the Internet; it is also in charge of managing the process and rollout of new top-level domains, such as .pharmacy, .health, and .nyc (New York City). On their website, they tout their multi-stakeholder model and inclusive approach to decision-making. To quote their website: “ICANN’s fundamental belief is that all users of the Internet deserve a say in how it is run.” But this ideal doesn’t seem to be playing out in practice.
Over the course of more than a year, RxRights sent several letters to ICANN leadership regarding our concerns about the .pharmacy top-level domain (TLD) and how letting an entity like the NABP control it would have a negative impact on Americans who struggle to afford high-priced U.S. medicine. We promoted our petition signatures. We publicly voiced our opposition using ICANN’s application comment forum. Still, ICANN was largely unresponsive to our communications.
As we’ve been waiting for a reply, NABP has been moving forward swiftly. In June, they put out a press release regarding their status as registry operator for .pharmacy. And they started bulldozing ahead with their plan to limit American access to international online pharmacies.
That’s why we decided that Lee needed to travel to L.A.—to personally deliver your 24,349 signatures along with a message. Lee asked the ICANN board to hold themselves accountable and heed the voices of individual Internet users before making decisions that will negatively affect consumers.
During that same public forum, after Lee delivered the petition, ICANN’s At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) voted unanimously to advise the ICANN board to freeze progress on the 28 highly-sensitive regulated industry sector new TLDs (including .pharmacy) until a working group made up of representatives from ALAC, Government Advisory Committee members, and others from the ICANN stakeholder communities have adequately considered public interest safeguards.
Again, thank you to those who signed the petition. Your support has influenced further significant discussion on this matter and we remain hopeful that these talks will lead to a resolution that we can live with, in every sense of the word. We will keep you posted as we learn more about this issue.