Global Warming May Be Hazardous to Your Domain Names

Country code domain names carry risks. Here are a couple examples.

Sure is pretty. Until the water rises.

This headline isn’t a joke. Here’s how global warming and subsequent rising ocean waters could doom a domain name extension.

Last night I read an article in The Economist about the Maldives, an island nation planning for the day it will be below sea level. The article also mentioned Tuvalu, an even smaller island nation of just over 10,000 inhabitants. At its highest, Tuvalu is just 5 meters above sea level. If waters rise, Tuvalu will become history. Its government is planning for that day, too.

Does Tuvalu sound familiar? Its country code domain name is .TV. .TV has since been commercialized by Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) and promoted in a deal with DemandMedia. By handing over control of the domain to Verisign Tuvalu gets a nice cut of the profits.

If Tuvalu ceases to exist, current ICANN policy dictates that the .tv domain name will be phased out. Kim Davies, Manager of Root Zone Services for Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, wrote in an email to Domain Name Wire:

The simple answer is if a country ceases to exist, under existing policy the domain will need to be retired. ICANN will permit a reasonable transition period so the affected parties can transition to other domains. In the most recent case, .YU (replaced with .RS and .ME), there was a 3 year transition period assigned by the ICANN Board.

To be sure, unless something catastrophic happens it will be long time before Tuvalu is completely under water even by Al Gore’s estimations.

A more likely scenario is that a country undergoes political strife, disbands, or renames. That’s how the repurposed .me domain name came to be, as referenced in Davies’ email. .Me is the country code for Montenegro, which was formerly part of Yugoslavia. The country code domain name for Yugoslavia, .yu, is being phased out.

In many parts of the world countries disappearing or changing names happens all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if ICANN was lobbied to change its policy of following the ISO 3166-1 standard for country codes if one of these “commercialized” ccTLDs such as .tv and .me was scheduled for extinction. But you should be aware of the risk.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. says

    Common sense and logic dictate that ICANN “policy” would be modified to allow .tv to exist and continue to flourish. The investment capital and business built around the .tv are far too extensive. ICANN are about to release numerous unneeded tld’s … but would destroy an established .TV namespace that is arguably one of the best non-com extensions around with a 15 year footprint? Extremely ridiculous, and improbable as well.

  2. says

    I always enjoy your mindset and the domain articles that result from it!

    You think “outside-of-the-box” and your style and substance certainly follows.

    The article was good but I just wanna acknowledge your slant on things!

    Please keep it up!


  3. Andrew says

    M. Menius – perhaps, but wouldn’t ICANN then be playing favorites with “popular ccTLDs” as opposed to unpopular ones? Even worse, playing favorite with ccTLDs that are economically successful as opposed to those that are used for a true, local purpose.

  4. says

    @Andrew – I don’t believe ICANN would simply throw .TV away or close it down. The amount of capital investment loss and the negative repercussions would be too great. As an exception could be easily justified, I would expect ICANN to work constructively with .TV stakeholders.

    If they just pulled the plug, it would undermine market confidence to an unprecedented degree. Anything’s possible on paper. But I would expect .TV would be reclassified a gtld along the lines of .info, .biz, and be truly synonymous with “television” once and for all.

  5. AV says

    There is an established principle that GTLDs must be at least three letters long because two-letter strings are reserved for ccTLDs.

    Not Tuvalu means no .tv – it’s as simple as that.

    Basing one’s online identity on a foreign ccTLD bears certain risks (I won’t go as far as to say it’s foolish!), and pretend-GTLDs such as .tv, .nu and .me should come with a health warning.

  6. says

    ICANN can go ahead and introduce damn other extensions that make no Stink’n sense, and now they would actually remove .TV.
    Foolio! – you guys are wasting time and if ICANN really is stupid, then let’s closed the internet down and stop using domains.

  7. Krsjn says

    I think your reasoning is a bit flawed. Although .tv is technically a country code domain name, it’s administrated by Verisign, and the Tuvalu government only owns 20%. There are a lot of non-country-specific uses of it – Channel Five in the UK, for example ( I’d be interested to see your original email to Kim Davies – did you say ‘if a country is destroyed, would you remove the domain name’ or actually explain the context? I can’t believe ICANN would be quite that short-sighted…

  8. Andrew says

    Krsjn –

    Yes, this was the exact example I provided. A country is a country and a country code is a country code. If Tuvalu goes away and then the domain will eventually go away. Unless, of course, ICANN stops following the ISO 3166-1 standard.

  9. Andrew says

    Robnoddy – .com, .net, .org aren’t United States extensions. They aren’t country codes. If the United States went away then .us would go away after a period of transition.

  10. Krsjn says

    That’s interesting, thanks for coming back so quickly Andrew. I have a suspicion that ICANN would try to reallocate it as a non-country-code specific domain name if Tuvalu did cease to exist, but who knows? Anyway, thanks for sparking my interest.

  11. Andrew says

    Krsjn – I suspect that Verisign would work hard to change ICANN’s current policy if this ever happened. The same would go for other commercialized country codes…but there’s not guarantee.

  12. Roger says

    I believe Andrew presents a valid doomsday scenario for these vibrant extensions (TV and ME).
    Tuvalu may go under water, with the next horrific Tsunami, drowning the country and all those ____ TV sites. Montenegro may face civil strife, a coup d’etat, and rebellion, scarring the land with severed limbs, torched homes, and crumbling ___me sites.

    For this reason, altruistic risk-taker that I am, please prepare for the gloom and doom and sell me your high premium TV and ME domains. It would be better for you TV and ME holders to salvage something, rather than risk all.

    I will pay premium for Hollywood.TV, Broadcast(s).TV, Channel(s. TV,

    and the same goes for ME — but they must be high-premium, i.e, scoring at least a 850 as a dotcom on the domain valuation site

    extra for ,,,,,,,, or even or — I may need a place to go over Tuvalu goes under—

    cheers, mates from OZ

  13. says

    Truth–actually, global warming IS for real … though it’s not actually our fault …

    I do chuckle, though, when I think back to my high school days (and no; I’m not saying when that was 😉 … and all the warnings by the scientists about how earth was experiencing global COOLING; due to the greenhouse gases humanity was/is putting out.

    They said that the result was that because these gases were BLOCKING some of the sun’s warming heat and light, that the result was a kinda’ “man made shade.”

    They even included maps of North America showing how the glaciers would once again cover most of Canada … even reaching down into the northern regions of the US.


  14. AV says

    I read an article last week about how the flat earthers…. I mean: global warming deniers – are now paying people to post their propaganda to online forums. Didn’t believe it at first, but clearly it’s true!

  15. says

    Oh no, Hillary, Kerry and their fascist buddies are now calling it “global climate change”

    I guess when a lie is so obvious for so many years in a row, you just have to change the name and hopefully no one actually goes to find out about the warming and cooling cycles of our sun, the reality that 98% of life absorbs C02 and C02 is beneficial for life to flourish as plants utilize C02 to photosynthesize

    Oh and don’t bother looking up that the earth temperatures were substantially warmer just 600 years ago before the mini ice age that we are now seeing the remnants dissipate. Don’t learn that Brits grew grapes and that vikings settled Greenland because it was nourishing enough to sustain life (grow food, have water and CO2)

    Hillary – continue to advance your rhetoric and the people will believe it, but alas when you are spewing 100% pure bologne, utterly unscientific data and these days not even common sense – eventually people will realize you are filling them full of crap and actually go research something on their own time, from varied sources other than your “climate change” fascist enforcement crew. Upon the albeit slow-witted unsuspecting people you expect people to be duped for ever, but when not even common sense on a first grade level can back your claims, the people will awaken.

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