China has announced its own internet address naming system – but what are the implications?
If you haven’t already heard, China has announced that it is releasing its own domain name system. It will be used in China as competition to ICANN’s domain name system that almost 100% of the “rest of the worldâ€ uses. To rub salt in the face of the internet, China is going to offer .com, .net, and .org domains. Yep, just like the domains the rest of us use.
What can we expect? Confusion and censorship. China is doing this for two reasons. First, they want to control what their citizens read. (My guess is DomainNameWire.com can’t be accessed in China, or at least posts like this that say negative things about the Chinese government.) By circumventing ICANN’s DNS China will have greater control over internet content. Second, they’re saying “screw you, Americaâ€ because China wanted to exert control over the internet and start an international domain oversight organization. They lost that battle.
China isn’t the first to think of an alternative root naming structure. New.net runs a naming structure that includes domains like .kids and .law. When New.net was born it didn’t have domain extensions that conflicted with ICANN, although some of its domains later conflicted with new ICANN domains (e.g. .travel). New.net require users to have a special browser plug-in to view its domains, so the service never caught on.
China’s .com domains won’t necessarily replace ICANN’s .com domains inside China. In order to land on one of China’s domains, users will have to use a “hard stopâ€ character in the Chinese language instead of “.â€. But people will make mistakes when typing internet addresses and might hit one of China’s domains when they mean to hit a regular domain. It’s unclear whether China will give first rights to its domains to .com holders like Amazon.com. My guess is China will entertain charging companies like Amazon.com for their Chinese equivalent. They’ll have to pay the government to reach its 1.3B citizens. Don’t forget that China doesn’t respect most intellectual property rights, so there’s nothing stopping them from dolling out its Amazon.com domain to someone else. You can also be certain that China will completely block some traditional .coms that speak out against China.
What will happen next? To be continuedâ€¦