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Feared by the Bad, Loved by the Good: Robin Hood

The eccentricities of California-based ICANN, the allocator of domain names, know few bounds. Based on the best of legal advice, though perhaps not the best of PR advice, it's Board has announced the system for allocating priority in the processing of around 1000 weighty applications for new top-level domain names. It has described the system, with all seriousness, as Digital Archery. A description that just begs for comparison with the English folk hero, Robin Hood.

Those who like me grew up in the UK may recall the lyrics of the 1960s TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene as the eponymous hero. "Feared by the Bad, loved by the Good, Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood". Here is why to fear Digital Archery.

Not a lot of lottery

One obvious way of fairly allocating a processing order is by random selection. Alas, such wisdom apparently falls foul of California's lottery laws which would not allow the not-for-profit ICANN to operate a lottery. So when is a lottery not a lottery? When it's a game of skill and not chance. Thus ICANN has invented a contest for the muscled longbow archers of the globe to compete with one another. The game, played on-line of course, is to hit a button as close to a fixed time in the Universe as is possible. Those within two femtoseconds win, others lose. Well something like that. ICANN's newly femtoseconds win, others lose. Well something like that. ICANN's newly bought Caesium Clock will ensure better accuracy than the Staff's Sports Day stopwatch.

But if all that is needed is a game of skill why not a quiz with questions such as: "Who will be ICANN's next CEO?"; "How long will the CEO last?"; "What will be the size of ICANN's bank balance at the end of the round priced at $185,000 an application?"

Prince of thieves and master of disguise No we must play Digital Archery. And like Robin Hood, its not enough to be a good marksman, you may need a bit of disguise to smuggle yourself in first to Nottingham Castle or Bastion ICANN. Even now in the cellars of neighbouring hotels and marina-view peasant hovels, merry men may be at work to steal time itself, building chrono-warping servers within a zeptosecond (thank you Wikipedia) of the ICANN treasury.

Will they be thwarted by devices to discover such covert archery? Will rules for allocation by geography strike new fear around the Realm? Tune in to next week's exciting episode.

In the meantime, Sedari's merry men have a cunning plan.

By Philip Sheppard, Director of Policy, Governance and Public Affairs, Sedari

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