Final Report from Durban and ICANN’s Smoke and Mirrors
My colleague, Greg Shatan, has authored an excellent overview of what occurred in Durban, South Africa at the ICANN meeting. For anyone who is concerned about the potential chaos ahead with the introduction of thousands of new top level domains, it’s a must read. Even if you’re not that interested in the issues, it’s an excellent read on how dysfunctional a consensus driven organization ICANN has become.
In the aftermath of the meeting, ICANN released an announcement addressing two key unresolved issues — name collisions (explained in Greg’s overview) and so-called “dotless domains“, e.g., http://example, or mail@example.
In the case of name collisions, the latest from ICANN claims that 80% of the applied for gTLDs pose a “low risk” of domain name collisions. I guess ICANN hopes the business community using internal domain names will find solace in that percentage. They should not. It’s a Trojan Horse. By definition, the risk exists and without doubt there will be collisions, disrupting systems and communications. It’s as if a jeweler dispensed with alarms, left its doors unlocked and dealt with robberies after they happened. All this begs the question, “Who is going to pay to fix problems and compensate for damages incurred?” Generally, the party who causes the damages pays the costs of correcting them and compensating the victim for any losses sustained. Is that what should happen here? After all, ICANN made millions of dollars on its sale of domains so perhaps it should be prepared to pay the freight when an international company’s communications and file systems crash. Not likely. Regardless, armed with a self-serving conclusion that 80% of the proposed gTLDs pose a low risk, ICANN continues down the path of releasing new domains, allegedly as early as September.
With respect to dotless domains, despite ICANN’s acknowledgment in its release that the Security and Stability Advisory Committee and the Internet Architecture Board recommendations were opposed to them, the ICANN Board announced it would, “consider dotless domain names and an appropriate risk mitigation approach at its upcoming meeting in August.” I guess ICANN just doesn’t know how to say no, even when its own experts conclude that’s the right answer. Instead, the debate will continue with no legitimate prospect of a sensible conclusion.
At this point, one can only conclude that ICANN is business as usual. As in no business at all. The industry that finances the Internet sits yet again in a quagmire not knowing when ICANN will actually start releasing new TLDs, let alone which owners will receive the first opportunity to cash in on a trademark protection bonanza while cybersquaters make millions with new targets and lawyers collect legal fees as skirmishes unfold. How does that help the Internet infrastructure and digital economy?
Add to the mix the admonition by the U.S. Senate to the NTIA (previously reported) that it needs to be more diligent in ICANN oversight. One cannot help but wonder what the NTIA is thinking about ICANN’s latest spin and hyperbole. Is the NTIA up to the task the Senate mandated? Time will tell but I would not place any bets just now.
Bottom line? The chaos and indecision continues while marketers and brands wait for a verdict that can only be bad. The only question is how bad and when?