Another reason you need to pay attention to the new top level domain process at ICANN.
I think it’s time to start a “Threatdown” for domain owners, a la Stephen Colbert. The threats to domain name owners in the new top level domain process at ICANN are far scarier than Colbert’s perennial threat: bears.
Today’s threat is the protection of city and other place names at the second level. We’re not talking about top level domains such as .nyc. We’re talking about domains like NewYork.tld.
Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), the UN-type constituency of ICANN, is proposing “country, territory, and place names should be protected at the top and second levels in new gTLDs”.
ICANN CEO Paul Twomey (who conveniently won’t be around when new TLDs finally rear their ugly heads) has pushed back on GAC, but the threat remains. In a letter (pdf) from Twomey to GAC’s Chairman earlier this month, Twomey pointed out many of the challenges of protecting place names at the second level. For example, if IBM wants .IBM, it shouldn’t be forbidden from using France.IBM as a domain. (Why IBM would want to do this is still unclear to me).
But the door is still open, as Twomey writes:
While these challenges remain in terms of implementing elements of 2.7, recent discussions suggest that there may be possible mechanisms that offer protections to country and territory names at the second level. The elaboration of possible mechanisms by GAC members is sought, to enable further discussion of the feasibility of such mechanisms with a view to finding a workable solution for resolving this outstanding issue.
GAC will certainly be able to influence ICANN even more when U.S. oversight of the ICANN is lost later this year. Hold onto your hats, folks.
The deadline to comment on the 2nd version of the gTLD handbook is April 13.