Resounding Opposition to New Top Level Domains
Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
Most constituents opposed to new TLDs; propose major overhaul.
The comment period for the second draft of ICANN’s new top level domain name applicant guidebook concluded yesterday. Most commentors suggested ways to fix the process and rules, but these same commentors are opposed to any adoption of new top level domains. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find more than one comment in favor of new TLDs from an organization other than those trying to launch new TLDs.
What’s scary about the process is how everyone wants special treatment. Consider American Bankers Association, which thinks any TLD related to finance should have strict regulations:
While many of the new generic domains will pose no threat to trusted transactions over the Internet, any domain name associated with financial services should be restricted to financial services companies, with substantial restrictions, guidelines and proof of eligibility.
It’s also clear that trademark interests are using this process to overreach. I’m a staunch supporter of trademark rights, but I’m concerned to see companies such as Hearst claim that no one else should be able to register the second level domain “cosmopolitan” on any TLD. It would be shame if someone applies for .drinks and can’t use cosmopolitan.drinks.
Many constituents are perplexed that ICANN seems to be pushing forward without first addressing major questions such as if there is a need for new TLDs. One major corporation called ICANN’s simplistic and erroneous economic study about the demand for new TLDs an opinion piece. AT&T (NYSE: T) questioned why ICANN was moving forward without addressing major overarching issues:
AT&T welcomes the detailed analysis of all responses received by ICANN in the Public Comment process, as well as ICANN’s acknowledgment that there are at least four “overarching” threshold concerns that were not adequately addressed by the draft Applicant Guidebook.1 However, ICANN published a Second Draft Guidebook, giving the appearance that it was continuing to move forward to implement unlimited generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) expansion in spite of the acknowledged importance of first resolving the threshold issues. ICANN must be open to the fact that one possible outcome of threshold issue resolution may be a fundamental change to ICANN’s initial implementation proposals.
What is most striking to me is that ICANN seems to be setting policy. It claims it doesn’t set policy and has a bottom-up process for policy. But it’s clear that ICANN’s financial goals — and perhaps the bonuses of its employees being tied to seeing new TLDs through — is getting in the way of this ideal.