The Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), comprised of 162 member states and 35 intergovernmental organisations (as of April 2016), provides advice to the ICANN Board of Directors (at the request of the Board, or at its own initiative) on the activities of ICANN as they relate to concerns of governments, particularly on matters where there may be an interaction between ICANN's policies and various laws and international agreements, or where these activities may have an impact of public policy issues with regard to the Internet Domain Name System (DNS).
The advice provided by the GAC is not compulsory for the ICANN Board, which can decide not to follow GAC advice. In such circumstances, the Board needs to enter into discussions witth the committee with the aim to find a mutually acceptable solution. If such a solution cannot be found, the Board will have to explain the reasons for not following GAC advice.
The GAC usually meets three times a year in conjunction with ICANN meetings, where it discusses issues with the ICANN Board and other ICANN supporting organisations, advisory committees, and other constituencies. Decisions within the GAC are made on the basis of consensus. All GAC meetings are open to anyone interested and interpretation is provided in the five UN languages and Portuguese.
Since its creation, the GAC has provided advice on issues such as: delegation and administration of country code top level domains (ccTLDs); new generic top level domains - new gTLDs (advice on gTLDs representing regulated sectors, such as .bank, .pharmacy, .lawyer - measures for ensuring consumers protection; advice on the use of country and territory names as gTLDs; advice on the use of country codes and country and territory names at second level in new gTLDs; privacy and data protection with regards to WHOIS data); and advice on aspects related to ICANN's accountability and transparency.