The risks of releasing hundreds of new TLDs at once outweigh the benefits.
It’s no secret that I’m generally opposed to introducing new top level domain names. And I’m not alone. Even before people started talking about a mass introduction of new TLDs, most of the domain name industry was opposed to new TLDs. I’ve asked the question on every Domain Name Wire survey for the past four years, and the no’s always beat the yes’.
But I think it’s important to explain my reasoning, and that I put everything on the table.
Every person and entity that is making a case in favor or against new TLDs has something to gain or lose if they are introduced. The registries and registrars will make money (at least in the short term), the consulting companies will make money, the outside trademark attorneys will make money, ICANN will make money and expand, and the large trademark holders think they will lose money. Other people think they will get rich registering and reselling new domains. .Com domain owners will likely not see any adverse effect (they may actually get more traffic), but domain investors in other extensions may be hurt.
I personally stand to reap a windfall in the early years if new domains are introduced. Registries will clamor to promote their TLDs and rise above the noise, and that means they’ll come to sites like Domain Name Wire to advertise.
But after a few years I, and the internet community, will be in a worse position. That’s why I’m opposed to new TLDs.
1. Consumer confusion will lead to an unsafe internet. New TLDs will make it easier to carry out scams and phishing attacks. Don’t think about your internet skill level; think about your grandparents’. Will they recognize that BankName.web isn’t really their bank?
2. ICANN will lose its path. Even though it will get a lot of money from the introduction of new TLDs, managing the ensuing headaches will be challenging. It will take its eye off the ball of what it was set up to do, especially when it has to defend against multiple lawsuits.
3. Politics will play a bigger role in the Net. The process of introducing new TLDs has already shown how politics rears its ugly head. Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is using this as an opportunity to add new restrictions to geographical names. Various countries and politicians are using this as an excuse to add or change regulation.
4. Registries will fail, leaving customers in a lurch. Even when a registrar fails, such as Parava, people can lose access to their web sites and lots of money. The same thing will happen with new TLD operators. The draft guidebook includes very limited protection to keep registries going after failure.
5. Large registrars will become too powerful, harming competition. Registries need the support of registrars to push their domains, as they control the “shelf space” for selling domain names. The big registrars will be able to negotiate sweetheart deals, thus hurting small registrars. Big registrars will also be able to create their own TLDs and push them. (There’s an ongoing battle over separation between registry and registrar.) This will ultimately decrease registrar competition.
6. Fundamental changes to domain name regulation will be pushed through without proper controls. We’re already seeing a rush job on changing how trademarks and domain arbitration works.
This isn’t all-inclusive, but is an overview of my rationale. Why not start with a few IDNs or a limited release of new TLDs? Why open up the floodgates at a cost of over ten million dollars? It doesn’t seem like a rational business or policy decision.