Victims of terrorism want to be paid (in part) with country code top level domain names.
ICANN has responded to the U.S. federal court in the District of Columbia, arguing that ccTLDs (country Code top level domain names, e.g. .ca and .de) are not property and can’t be awarded to plaintiffs in a case involving terrorism.
Plaintiffs in Jenny Rubin, et al vs. The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al, say they are victims of terrorism from Iran, Syria and North Korea, and want control of country codes for each country (.IR, .SY, and .KP plus a couple IDN versions).
ICANN’s Motion to Quash argues that “country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) are part of a single, global interoperable Internet which ICANN serves to help maintain…ccTLD’s are not property, and are not ‘owned’ or ‘possessed’ by anyone including ICANN, and therefore cannot be seized in a lawsuit.”
ICANN’s general response was predictable.
Make no mistake — a ruling to the contrary would be devastating for the domain name system. One of the biggest threats to web is a splintering of the internet caused by governments upset that the U.S. government has too much control over the internet.
That’s a big part of the reason the U.S. government plans to end its role in the IANA contract for name delegation. It bothers other governments that the U.S. government has a sort of “veto power”.
While few people may be sympathetic to the three countries at issue, taking over their ccTLDs would be a horrible precedent that would throw the entire internet ecosystem into disarray.
It’s worth noting that gTLDs are a different matter. They are being treated like property and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them used as payment to settle legal issues in the future.