Month: October 2012
Internet governance world meets in Toronto amid new domains controversy: Geist.
The Internet governance world gathers in Toronto this week as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the California-based non-profit corporation charged with the principal responsibility for maintaining the Internet’s domain name system, holds one of its meetings in Canada for only the third time. The Toronto ICANN meeting comes at a particularly tumultuous time for the organization with mounting criticism over its process for creating new domain name extensions that could reshape the Internet.
After years of debate and discussion, ICANN last year unveiled a policy that opened the door to hundreds of new domain name extensions. While most Internet users are accustomed to the current generic (dot-com, dot-net, and dot-org) and country-code (dot-ca in Canada) extensions, ICANN’s plans will radically change the domain name landscape by creating hundreds of new extensions linked to brand names, geographic regions, and even generic words.
The domain name extension allocation process began with an open process that attracted nearly 2,000 applications for new domain name extensions. Several Canadian organizations jumped at the chance for new extensions, including Rogers Communications (which applied for dot-rogers, dot-fido, and dot-chatr) and the Canadian Real Estate Association (dot-mls).
Once the applications were published, the next stage of the process invited comments on the proposals. The 105-day comment period generated more than 10,000 responses, with many applications facing considerable criticism.
Targets included even the most innocuous proposals. For example, Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of well-known baby products including baby powder and bath oil, applied for a dot-baby domain name extension. The Saudi Arabian government responded by warning that “many individuals and societies may find this string offensive on religious and/or cultural grounds.” It added that there is a risk that the domain extension could be used for pornography, much like dot-xxx domains.
Many other proposals attracted demands for heightened regulation of domain name registrations. The movie and music industry responded to the proposed creation of a dot-music domain name extension by calling for “enhanced security measures”. These include the ability to reject potential registrants and requirements for detailed personal information on registration that would be made widely accessible. The groups justify the need for these measures on the basis that new extensions focused on the content industries have “the exceptional potential to cause harm to consumers.”
These complaints may border on the bizarre, but the biggest outcry has arisen over proposals from Internet giants Amazon and Google to register hundreds of generic words, such as dot-book and dot-blog. While few have a problem with the creation of these new generic extensions, Amazon and Google surprised the Internet community by proposing to keep the domains private with no public registrations.
Private domain name extensions were expected – many popular brand names submitted applications to extend their trademarks to new domain name extensions without plans to offer the public access – but the use of generic terms for private purposes has rubbed many people the wrong way as there is a sense of a virtual land grab.
With criticism of these proposals mounting, ICANN finds itself sandwiched between unhappy governments, lobby groups, registrars, consumer associations, and Internet users. If the organization caves to the pressure, its legitimacy as a community-based consensus driven body will be damaged. On the other hand, doing nothing runs the risk of lawsuits and criticism that a decade-long policy process has failed. As ICANN meets in Toronto, addressing the new domain name extension issue will have significant implications not only for the Internet, but for the organization itself.
2. Keep hackers at bay with good security
Sometimes it seems like everyone’s out to get you online, and even if you aren’t falling for phishing schemes and other scams, someone can always hack into your accounts. Strong passwords aren’t enough to keep them out, either — you’ll need to make sure you’ve protected yourself on all sides in addition to having a strong, unique password for every site. Read up on our best security practices for more information. Even if you find security inconvenient, there’s a lot you can do to keep yourself protected.
1. Just stop caring about trolls and get on with your life
The absolute best way to avoid the leagues of morons on the internet — particularly the troll variety — is to just ignore them. They aren’t attacking you, they’re attacking boredom, and they’re hardly worth the energy of even engaging, particularly because that’s exactly what they want. If you get locked in, you can weasel your way out with dignity, but the more you realize they aren’t worth the effort, the happier you’ll be.
4. Handle the crazies on Facebook on Twitter.
Whether they’re anonymous subscribers or your best friends, sometimes discussions on Facebook and Twitter can get out of hand. If one of your friends or followers is really ticking you off, we’ve shared a few strategies for dealing with them — whether it’s diffusing the situation with humor or politely telling them to shut up. If you want to take more drastic measures, you can filter out posts containing certain words, which is particularly useful during election season. Intelligent discussion is great … but “I’m moving to Canada” posts are just annoying.
3. Learn to argue without bringing out the worst in people.
Sometimes you just can’t help yourself, and you get into an argument with someone on the internet. As bad an idea as this is, there are some things you can do to avoid coming off as a troll (and thus avoid bringing out the troll in everyone else). You can also try and sound like you know what you’re talking about even when you don’t, but on the internet, that’s a recipe for disaster, and you’ll lose an already impossible-to-win argument. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, be sure to read up on how to get out of an argument with an irrational person. You’ll need it.