Internet governance world
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.