ICANN Embraces Censorship


The voting members of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided yesterday to expand the number of top-level domains (TLD), or ends of web addresses (.com, .org, .net). In anticipation of the vote, I argued that more domain names would be a good thing, for the reasons listed by Jesse Walker, and also on principle: More choice is better than less choice.

But ICANN dropped the ball:

New names won't start appearing for at least several months, and ICANN won't be deciding on specific ones quite yet. The organization still must work out many of the details, including fees for obtaining new names, expected to exceed $100,000 apiece to help ICANN cover up to $20 million in costs….

The streamlined guidelines call for all applicants to go through an initial review phase during which anyone may raise an objection on such grounds as racism, trademark conflicts and similarity to an existing suffix. If no objection is raised, approval would come quickly.

So, what some people initially thought was going to be good for everyone is going to end up being good mostly for the special interest groups that have ICANN's ear. Not one to let the organization's history of bureaucratic failures get him down, tech guru Brad Templeton suggests someone break up ICANN:

In effect, allow a moderate to large number of largely autonomous, competing name managers. Each could have its own system, its own rules, its own prices and its own dispute resolution policy. Each would innovate and price to attract users and win the competitive battle. Some might be almost identical in function, others might be quite radical. Each would have its own brand—as a top level domain, and be fairly free about what was done below it.

The stripped down remains of ICANN would be a trans-national organization, beyond the power of any single national government, which would exist only to maintain the root servers and to assure that the competing name companies remain on a level playing field.

Thanks to Patrick Melody for the Templeton link.