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Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains

As most readers are no doubt aware, when it comes to the topic of Top-Level Domains (TLDs), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) takes center stage. From the existing .com and .net TLDs to the newly introduced and future releases, in the past years we witnessed the increasing level of discussions around Top-Level Domains painted — ever so often — with political, legal and technical debates. Vint Cerf (CircleID), Google's VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, who has served as chairman of the board of ICANN since the November of 1999 has accepted CircleID's invitation to directly respond to your questions on the topic.

This is your opportunity to have your Top-Level Domain related questions responded by Vint Cerf. Please post your questions using the comment submission button below (similar to posting a comment). Please limit your questions to one per comment. Best ten questions are passed on to Vint Cerf and his answers will be posted on CircleID as soon as they are returned.

Update (Jan 23, 2006): This interview session is now closed. Thank you all for your participation. Vint Cerf's responses can be found on this page.

By CircleID Reporter

Related topics: DNS, ICANN, Registry Services, Top-Level Domains


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Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Danny Lee Younger  –  Jan 16, 2006 12:18 PM PDT


Karl Auerbach recently made this comment on the GNSO General Assembly list:  "Even during my term there were those who were absolutely, totally, and utterly against auctions, and some of those are still on the board."

How would you characterize current Board sentiment regarding the prospect of TLD auctions?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Randy Bush  –  Jan 16, 2006 1:09 PM PDT

what is the win for anybody?  do any of the new gtld registr*s make money?  the trademark folk just have to register in one more domain.  the users doen't care, they just click a hyperlink.

it seems like more stuff for icann to argue about instead of just doing a quiet job.  all the "let a million tlds bloom" talk seems like self-promotion disguised as egalitarianism.

where is the real win for anybody?  show me the cash.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Martin Hannigan  –  Jan 16, 2006 1:44 PM PDT


What would be the impact on the demand for new TLD's if there were a mechanism or service like a "DO NOT REGISTER" system for trademark holders?


Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Jothan Frakes  –  Jan 16, 2006 4:32 PM PDT

What factors of a new TLD submission favorably or unfavorably impacts the outcome?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Chris McElroy  –  Jan 16, 2006 6:49 PM PDT

Hello, Vint. You've probably seen my issue in the mailing list, but just got too busy to respond there. I hope you will here.

If you go to http://thingsthatjustpissmeoff.blogspot.com/2006/01/icann-in-violation-of-free-enterprise.html

or http://thingsthatjustpissmeoff.blogspot.com/2006/01/icann-creating-monopoly-in-domain.html

or http://thingsthatjustpissmeoff.blogspot.com/2006/01/icann-to-consider-new-tlds.html

you can quickly get up to speed on where I'm coming from.

Now for my questions.

1. Since ICANN is supposed to foster competition, how does restricting the number of tlds help do that?

2. Do you consider it fair and competitive to allow current companies who monopolize most of the good, short one word domain names, to have an advantage over every other business or individual user who has to choose 3-4 word domain names to compete with?

3. What about future generations of users and future businesses that are not even on the web yet? How long will their domain names have to be since ICANN has limited namespace to a few generic sounding tlds, com, net, org, biz, and info and how does that foster competition?

4. Why should a trademark automatically assure one company a domain name when several businesses have the same mark? And why does ICANN not solve that problem by creating categorical tlds that correspond to trademark categories? Then apple.computers could be as protected as apple.records

5. Where in ICANN's bylaws does it say that ICANN has the right to review my business plan before deciding to let me run a tld? What if my business plan is a secret? Why does it take $50,000 to review an application? And why haven't the application fees ever been refunded to applicants who were turned down?

I'll limit my questions to just those five areas of curiosity, since I'm unlikely to get straight answers for them anyway. I haven't gotten answers on the GNSO mailing list, so don't expect much better here.

Chris McElroy

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Tom Cross  –  Jan 16, 2006 9:55 PM PDT

1. Years ago it was often argued that consumers in the United States were confused by domain names in TLDs other then .com… Has the popularity of search engines, and particularly search bars in web browsers, changed playing field in terms of consumer's ability to use alternate TLDs and the amount of traffic seen by sites in alternate TLDs from U.S. consumers?

2. Does ICANN view the bulk domain monetization business as a legitimate activity that contributes constructively to the Internet as a communications tool?

3. How much of an impact does the bulk domain monetization business have on the revenue that registrars, registries, and ICANN generate from the domain name system?

4. How much of an impact does the scarcity of generic TLDs have on the availability of unregistered domain names and the price that domain names carry on the secondary market in which they are resold by bulk registrants?

5. How much of an impact does the scarcity of generic TLDs have on the revenue that registrars, registries, and ICANN generate from the domain name system?

6. Does the treatment of domain names as private property, combined with limits on the number of TLDs, and the creation of the inevitable secondary market, lead to the most efficient distribution of domain names to deserving users? Are there other models that might work? Does increasing the number of TLDs improve or harm this market's ability to efficiently distribute these resources?

7. What are your thoughts on the creation of alternate, generic TLDs with different sets of policies on the ownership of domains, trademark resolution, whois privacy, and other DNS policy issues as laboratories in which various perspectives on DNS policy might be given an opportunity to prove themselves?

8. What purpose, other then increasing the amount of revenue generated per domain, was served by resolving the DNS Whois privacy question by creating a secondary market for privacy services, when ICANN could have simply allowed the registrars to keep this information private themselves?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Paul Foote  –  Jan 16, 2006 10:31 PM PDT

Hello :)

A friend and I were recently dicussing the need for a TLD that could be used to describe a site as being overly humorous. There are many sites on the internet that the general public are confused about, in particular parody sites that look extremly simmilar to thier authentic counterparts. Humor, when being expressed in text, is sometimes extremly hard to tell from sarcasm, temporary lapses of insanity, or just plain taking the piss out of somebody.

So I propose to you that there should be a .lol TLD. My original idea was a .looooooooolroflomfghahahlollll TLD, but for simplicity I think .lol will suffice.

Until you go-ahead with my request you will never know if this is a joke or if I am being deathly serious.


Paul "geesus" Foote.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains JCDay  –  Jan 16, 2006 10:35 PM PDT

Given that corporations will register the same name in as many TLDs as possible, and protect their trademarks by preventing the use of the same or similar names in the other TLDs, we are in a situation where we have massive overlap between TLDs along with gaping holes. Corporations often have multiple entries - different divisions, different products, different regions - again, often spanning TLDs.

I will not argue the merits and demerits of IP protection in the Internet namespace. That is a whole debate in and of itself, particularly in the context of cybersquatting. What I will argue is that the namespace has become totally flat and heavily polluted. The hierarchical nature of the system is so rarely used that it essentially no longer exists.

ICANN has introduced new TLDs, but this disease is rapidly spreading into them, too. The introduction alone of further TLDs is unlikely to help.

Then there is the pressure to add international character sets. At first, there seems to be no connection, but think… Many of the worst polluters right now are aiming at international markets. What better way to reach them than in their own language? If you're using the I18N language set, every single existant domain name will have 18 forms that are semantically identical but syntactically different.

It would seem clear, then, that something new needs to be added to the mix. Something that can protect those things that really need protecting, something that is quick, easy and efficient, but above all, something that is resistant to contamination.

If all of the current administrators of the TLDs, Congress, WIPO, anyone and everyone with an interest in having a sane, rational, enforceable system sat round your chair and said they'd treat you as the Guru of All Knowledge Internet on this matter, if only you could tell them how it would need to be solved to truly work, how would you answer them?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Lincoln Yeoh  –  Jan 16, 2006 10:36 PM PDT

How about reserving a "public use" TLD for addressing by physical context ala RFC1918?

See: Top level domains for addressing by physical context

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Brian Rice  –  Jan 16, 2006 10:47 PM PDT

Back in the olden days, I understood what the purpose of top-level domains was.  TLDs provided a non-overlapping breakdown of everything on the Internet.  They helped to disambiguate apparently similar names, and they made delegated administration possible. 

Nowadays, I don't think TLDs do this anymore.  It's been a long time since there was any useful difference between .COM and .NET, and yet both persist, fostering domain squatting and user confusion.  Every attempt so far to create a useful new TLD looks like a failure to me.  They can't compete for mindshare with the old ones, and they don't solve any new problems other than colonizing a new namespace (and thus introducing further ambiguity).

Why have new TLDs at all?  Or even: why have TLDs?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Simon Higgs  –  Jan 17, 2006 12:03 AM PDT

I'm the very first new TLD applicant (as documented in Milton L. Mueller's "Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace" published by MIT Press). Here are my questions:

1. Why have you and ICANN completely abandoned the original pioneers who worked with Jon Postel in the mid-1990's on new TLDs?

2. Why hasn't IANA, (now fulfilled by ICANN under sole-source contract with the Department of Commerce), processed the original IANA TLD applications that Jon Postel actively solicited via numerous mailing lists such as com-priv, newdom and domain-policy?

3. Why did you say, on CNN in 2000, that no new TLDs had been introduced in the previous 10 years?
[The statement wasn’t true since there were 30 country-code TLDs (ccTLDs) added in 1995, 31 added in 1996, 47 added in 1997, 2 added in 1998, 1 in 1999. There had, in fact, been well over 100 ccTLDs added to the root zone in the previous 5 years.]

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Anonymous Coward  –  Jan 17, 2006 12:22 AM PDT

DNSSEC. When. Or are you looking at other methods?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Anssi Porttikivi  –  Jan 17, 2006 1:10 AM PDT

Dear Vint,

What do you think of the following suggestion? This would let everyone run their own pseudo "top level domain" without stressing the global system too much. The goal here is especially that the DNS cache hit ratios would not drop dramatically because of multitude of global domains.

I once tried to discuss this on the DNSO mailing list, but finally could not find a right place:

"A letter hierarchy based scheme for arbitrary TLDs"

Let's first set up top level domains for all single letters a., b.,...z. Then if I want to have a name "anssi.abc." for my machine. I rewrite it (first in my head) to be "anssi.a.b.c." I go to the "c." TLD authority. I ask them, if they have already delegated the 2nd level domain "b.c.". If such domain exists, I go to its authority, and ask, if they have a domain "a.b.c." already.

If the domain "b.c." did exist, but the domain "a.b.c."
did not, then I register my "a.b.c." servers with the domain "b.c." authority, to set up new delegation. There should be a standard IETF rule, that single letter domains must allow delegation of any unregistered single letter subdomains!

So now I can set up names like "anssi.a.b.c." in my own name server, serving the domain "a.b.c.", registered at "b.c.". NOW I MODIFY MY RESOLVER and ask everybody to do the same, if they please! The new versions of resolvers would be standardized to TRANSLATE ALL UNRECOGNISED multi-letter TLDs into a sequence of one letter domains before the query. So "anssi.abc." will be resolved as "anssi.a.b.c.".

The classical, now existing TLDs can be handled as a special case. But now anybody is also free to set up whatever TLDs they want to!!! You greatly benefit from an updated resolver, but all resolvers will still work with the old TLDs, and old resolvers will also kind of work with the new names, but only if you translate manually, writing "anssi.a.b.c" instead of "anssi.abc".

You don't have to touch applications, but of course a Web browser might be aware of the new system, and compensate for non-upgraded resolvers. Anyway, writing HTML anchors like "anssi.a.b.c" would work also in old resolvers.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Dylan van Iersel  –  Jan 17, 2006 1:15 AM PDT

Why do we still have TLD restrictions anyway? Why not let TLD's be created by the users themselves?

Everyone is experiencing tld overload, especially on the .com tld. These days it is extremely hard to find a suitable domain name. Almost everything has been taken, if not for the sake of actual business it's by domainname harvesters who treat it like an 'investement'.

Why not removing all (most) restrictions on TLD's and have them automagically be created, but not owned as soon as anyone registers a domain name?

Example: I register blah.dvi or whatever. This means that .dvi is created and blah.dvi is registered. Anyone else can register some other domainname in the .dvi space if they choose to.

By removing these restrictions, the pressure to register a .com or .net domain will lessen and the domainname harvesting will seize since there will be no shortage anymore. Enough "address space" for everyone!

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Grant Hutchins  –  Jan 17, 2006 1:50 AM PDT

Why have a .biz domain? .biz is for Business, but doesn't that directly overlap with .com for Commericial? I've never heard a proper justification for this seemingly redundant TLD.


Grant Hutchins

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Ted Hastings  –  Jan 17, 2006 2:05 AM PDT

Why is there no top-level domain for Scotland, eg: .sco. This seems highly anomalous in that other parts of the United Kingdom have their own TLDs (eg: the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) and other nations which are also part of a larger country have their own TLD, eg: .cat for Catalonia.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains jay.talbot@gmail.com  –  Jan 17, 2006 2:18 AM PDT

Why is it not possible for me to host my own and private TLD? Say, my name is Jay. I want the .jay pTLD. Why is it not possible for me to setup and tie in my own root servers to serve this pTLD?

Of course, with this system, I could see a bunch of squatters going in and "reserving" any and all pTLD's they can think of, like normal domains, so there should be a system setup to discourage this type of abuse.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Patrick Vande Walle  –  Jan 17, 2006 2:39 AM PDT


With .cat, ICANN has set a precedent for language-specific TLDs. With about 6800 languages on earth, how will ICANN decide which language-specific TLDs are relevant and how will the DNS infrastructure be able to cope with potentially 6800 new TLDs ?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Dan Maharry  –  Jan 17, 2006 3:16 AM PDT

1. With EPP now a standard and adoption going on throughout the major TLDs, will you set a deadline for the big TLDs to make the switch from RRP. From a purely operational viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense to have everyone talking in one language.

2. Will the implementation of an IRIS server now be written into every new \ renegotiated TLD contract? If yes, how will you address the continuing conflicts between WHOIS, IRIS and the various privacy laws around the world that exist before the GNSO working group deliver their recommendations later on this\next year?

3. Will the implementation of a mechanism for DNSSEC now be written into every new \ renegotiated TLD contract? If yes, will ICANN prescribe the use of a DNSSEC extension over EPP for that purpose or let registries roll their own?

4. How long do you expect it to take before IPv6 must be taken up in the majority by users of the internet?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Gareth Owen  –  Jan 17, 2006 6:05 AM PDT

I suggested some years ago to adult webmasters, that there should be a .kid TLD to prevent children accessing the general internet by filtering out all other TLD's. At the time, it was possible to visit www.disney.kid (though that has vanished now). A .kid TLD could be policed effectively and T&C would prominently state severe penalties on owners who allowed unsuitable materials / links out.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Marianne Mueller  –  Jan 17, 2006 9:40 AM PDT

What is the role of the US intelligence
agencies in ICANN?  I suppose such information
either cannot be broadcast or will not be, but I thought I'd ask.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Christopher Ambler  –  Jan 17, 2006 12:16 PM PDT

Vint, I've been waiting, patiently, since 1996 to compete with .Web. I participated in the IANA process with Jon, the failed IAHC process, the Green Paper, the White Paper, the IFWP, and now ICANN. .Web was not approved in 2000 even though you argued for it (which I appreciate), expressing some sympathy for pioneers in the field.

We're still here. I'm still here. We're still ready to go and introduce real competition into the gTLD namespace.

Do you suspect I'll be waiting another ten years?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Chris McElroy  –  Jan 17, 2006 12:30 PM PDT

Nice to hear from you Chris. Your persistance is amazing. .web should have been approved long ago.

Chris McElroy

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Eric Grimm  –  Jan 17, 2006 12:37 PM PDT

This inquiry concerns the disposition of deleted domain names, and whether ICANN has or purports to have legislative jurisdiction to exempt any registrars, registries, or registrants from compliance with national and state unclaimed property laws.  The first specific question is whether ICANN has done any legal research on this subject, and what steps (if any) have been taken by ICANN to ensure that ICANN and ICANN-authorized DNS participants (registrars, registries) remain in strict compliance with laws governing the disposition of unclaimed intangible property.  The second question is whether ICANN purports to have jurisdiction to exempt DNS participants from compliance with national and state laws.

Some historical background is probably in order.  You may or may not be aware of efforts by some United States banking enterprises — around the turn of the 20th century — to use private contracts of adhesion to exempt themselves from compliance with state unclaimed property statutes.  Essentially, they wanted to be able to retain deposits, or to auction off the contents of safety deposit boxes, to benefit themselves, instead of having the proceeds go to state governments.  Obviously, a rather pronounced conflict of interest would arise if these banks were permitted to convert customers' property to their own use.  This is so even in cases in which a customer has stopped paying for a safety deposit box.

Precisely the same conflict-of-interest situation exists whenever an ICANN-authorized DNS participant (registrar, or Verisign) purports to have authority to charge a premium, in exchange for "first dibs" on a prior registrant's "deleted" property, or purports to have authority to "auction" a registrant's property and to retain the proceeds.  And — please — don't try to throw around that "it’s a contract, not property" nonsense that Phil Sbarbaro has been trying to peddle for years.

Judge Kozinski has made it perfectly clear that domain names are in fact intangible personal property.  See Kremen v. Cohen, 337 F.3d 1024, 1036 (9th Cir. 2003).  I cannot speak to the rules in non-US jurisdictions, but virtually everyplace in the United States, the state unclaimed property statutes apply without qualification to *ALL* intangible personal property.  That includes domain names, by necessity.  Inasmuch as California is the situs of the registrants for a healthy percentage, if not a majority, of all registered domain names, and Kudge Kozinski has ruled on the status of domain names in California, it would seem that any disagreement has already been resolved — in favor of the "property" camp — for every single domain name registered to a California registrant.

Presumably, the unclaimed property administrators in most states have not realized that this issue exists, yet.  Indeed, I spoke with one today who had never thought about this issue, but found it most intriguing.  As you may imagine, in light of the budgetary realities confronted by most states, and the market price of all the mis-handled domain names over, say, the entire history of ICANN, one can reasonably infer that state governments will sooner or later become deeply interested in this possible source of revenue, and some may well even initiate appropriate litigation.

What, precisely, if anything, is ICANN doing to protect itself and ICANN-authorized DNS participants from the inevitable deluge of meritorious (and costly) litigation by state unclaimed property administrators?  How much has ICANN set aside to pay the judgments?  How much has ICANN instructed Verisign and the various registrars to set aside as a reserve to pay the money judgments?

Getting back to the analogous situation of U.S. banks and the disposition of customers' deposits, and the contents of safety-deposit boxes, you may be interested to know whether the banks were ever permitted to exempt themselves from the governing state law, through private contracts.

Turns out, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly rejected the notion that such an exemption can be accomplished through private contracts of adhesion.  See Delaware v. New York, 507 U.S. 490, 496-97, 502 (1993) (“Charters, bylaws, and contracts of deposit do not give a bank the right to retain abandoned deposits, and a law requiring the delivery of such deposits to the State affects no property interest belonging to the bank.”) (citing Security Savings Bank v. California, 263 U.S. 282, 285-286 (1923); Provident Institution for Savings v. Malone, 221 U.S. 660, 665-666 (1911)).  I am unaware of any reason to believe that ICANN, registries, or registrars, through private action, can purport to have legislative jurisdiction to exempt themselves from well-established and settled law.

Could you please explain what basis, if any, ICANN purports to have to confer any such jurisdiction on itself?  I’d also be eager to learn what steps – if any – ICANN has taken to ensure that it and its authorized DNS participants (Verisign, registrars) actually maintain strict compliance with applicable laws in each U.S. state, and other jurisdictions with comparable laws.

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains K. Max Wippich  –  Jan 17, 2006 12:52 PM PDT

In the past it has not been possible to reserve single letter domain names (ie: a.com).  There have been a few notorious exceptions, but this largely holds true.  With the advent and promulgation of IPv6, it is no longer going to be necessary to retain those domains for their original purpose (to use “lettered servers” as a means of expanding the base of the internet).  Thus I pose the following: What is the current status of the single letter domain names?  How soon will it be possible to register them?  Will they be available to the general public, or will it be addressed with an auction?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Dirk Krischenowski  –  Jan 17, 2006 1:19 PM PDT

Dear Vint,

We had long talks with Google, Yahoo, Ebay and Microsoft executives on the value of regional and city TLDs for their strategy. All of them have launched or are going to launch localised services for cities and regions. How does Goggle valuates the upcomping new city TLDs like .berlin, .nyc, .london and other regional TLDs for its "local" strategy?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Bret Fausett  –  Jan 17, 2006 1:24 PM PDT

What does ICANN intend to do about the 40+ applications (such as .GEO, .UNION, .HEALTH, .III, .WEB, .ONE, etc.) submitted in 2000 that were not selected for inclusion in the testbed? Must these applicants reapply? If so, will there be any first-mover advantage for those who initially proposed a text string and business plan and wish to move forward with it again now?

Bret Fausett

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Nathan Braun  –  Jan 17, 2006 2:22 PM PDT


It is uncontestable that the language we use is potentially very powerful.  After all, we are all using words in this forum to communicate. 

However, some words are more powerful than others.

Therefore, can you please tell me why ALL of the following domains are not immediately authorized?

* .love
* .thanks
* .joy
* .peace
* .patience
* .kind
* .gentle
* .faith
* .hope
* .happy
* .just
* .self
* .true
* .truth
* .wise
* .zen

(***How can you really refuse the authorization of such terms, when ICANN has extensively considered the authorization of .xxx!???***)

The widespread usage of such terms would positively impact all life on this planet. 

Please authorize all such positive non-commercial terms as soon as humanly possible.

I am especially concerned with .love, since LOVE is the strongest (and only REAL) FORCE in the universe.

I remain sincerely yours,

Nathan Braun
for dotLOVE

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Paul Mockapetris  –  Jan 17, 2006 5:51 PM PDT

I have several friends from Barcelona, and I wish them well with regard to the new .CAT TLD.  On the other hand I note there are other groups in a variety of countries that could claim equal status: Basques in Spain, Navajos is the US, Hawaiians, etc.  Possibly even more than the 17,576 or so possible 3 letter TLDs.

Is .CAT special or should the others expect equal treatment from ICANN?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Bill Stewart  –  Jan 17, 2006 7:24 PM PDT

Internationalized Domain Names really need work - Punycode is an ugly hack, and 7-bit-printable-subset ASCII simply doesn't cut it for too much of the world.  It's better than approaches like Sitefinder, which almost worked for the tcp 80 web and partially worked for email and totally failed for protocols on ports other than tcp 80 and 25 and maybe udp 80.  Doing the job right probably includes changing the RFCs to allow 8-bit transparency (or at least Unicode) and some Unix and Windows library updates.  Somebody needs to take leadership for fixing the problem, and it's better if ICANN does it than China doing something for .cn, Verisign hacking .com again, and other TLDs rolling _their_ own solutions.  Is there any way to make it happen in the existing organizational framework?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains The Famous Brett Watson  –  Jan 17, 2006 7:37 PM PDT

Vint, can you please describe ICANN's guiding principles with regards to the top level domains? Obviously one such guiding principle is that of technical feasibility — a principle that needs no further justification. Apparently another such guiding principle is that of "parsimony" — the idea that fewer is better. I surmise this principle from the high barrier to entry that ICANN has created for new TLDs, but it's not immediately obvious why this is a good principle. Why "fewer is better" rather than "the more the merrier"?

So, in short, what are ICANN's key guiding principles with regards to TLDs, and why have those principles been adopted over whatever alternatives might also have been feasible?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Dave Zan  –  Jan 17, 2006 8:06 PM PDT

Hi Vint,

1. When will actual domain registrants everywhere finally have a say?

2. When will the next ICANN board elections be "open"?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Vittorio Bertola  –  Jan 18, 2006 3:41 AM PDT

(First of all, the nasty one) Did you ever read the submissions by the At-Large Advisory Committee on this matter? Could we please find a way to discuss the matter with you and the Board, other than using the press?

Do you really think that it is ICANN's role to decide which new TLDs are useful? Shouldn't ICANN just verify whether applications meet some basic technical and substantial requirements, have an ongoing accreditation process, and let the DNS evolve?

Don't you think that high application fees (or, even worse, auctions), long and complex accreditation processes, and significant lobbying needs, unduly favour commercial uses of the DNS over non-commercial ones, and established ICT companies from the developed world over everyone else?

As an example, a group of volunteers (see http://www.eu.org/) has been successfully operating and giving away for free domain names for 10 years now; but they would never be able to meet all the financial and operational burdens that ICANN creates to get a gTLD. Isn't this the proof that these burdens are unnecessary? Why can't there be a way to establish non-profit gTLDs compatible with the classical volunteer-based and bottom-up approach of all Internet activities?


Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Vittorio Bertola  –  Jan 18, 2006 3:47 AM PDT

Sorry, I would also like to repeat a very important question that other people already made… I know of at least six different Regions in Italy that resemble Catalonia in terms of a history of political independence, the existence of a proper and widely spoken "national" language, and a tradition of cultural autonomy. When will they be able to apply for their TLD?


Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Paul Tattersfield  –  Jan 18, 2006 4:23 AM PDT

Hi Vint,

Do you think there is a possibility that expanding the number of gTLDs in the name of competition will paradoxically have the opposite effect? In that for the majority of people .com will become even more entrenched as the “only gTLD worth having” thereby actually diminishing competition?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Ronaldo Cardonetti  –  Jan 19, 2006 6:17 AM PDT

Dear Mr. Vint Cerf:

As I long time Internet user representing and defending the interest of domain leasing owners I am deeply concerned about the direction that Brazil is handling ccTLD registration.

As ccTLD control was transferred away from the United States I have the greatest concern about the US ceding control in particular to the Brazilian government's CGI (Comite Gestor da Internet) who is not being accountable to disastrous results down the road for everyone other than the favored few which remain in control in that case obviously CGI.

In this regard, the current ICANN proposal for Brazil's ccTLD handling leaves far too much to the imagination, both in terms of how much authority the Brazilian Internet using public is having and in terms of whether the inner working of CGI will be open for public inspection, review, and criticism when signs of corruption and abuse is becoming greater.

The way I see it, I really hope ICANN is not encouraging Brazil to continue violating US laws and US public policies using monopoly as a tool to succeed preventing the private sector from competing and succeed as well which could make ICANN accountable for these actions even when ccTLD .br is under US control.

Take for example your google.com.br in Brazil. The results of a search shows the state of Paraná as being the state of Paraíba promoting a result error confusing the researcher specially young students.

Please see for yourself at:


When will you & ICANN help Brazilian intrapreneurs and ISP's like myself making Internet in Brazil more competitive and have the right to register ccTLD and compete for the registration to break the vicious cicle of monopoly dictated by registro.br for the past 10 years?

Ronaldo Cardonetti

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Chris McElroy  –  Jan 19, 2006 6:49 AM PDT

Are you sure you mean Brazil? Sounded a lot like what's happening in the US.

I don't mean to make light of your concerns, they are serious.

It's just that you wrote "using monopoly as a tool to succeed preventing the private sector from competing" which sounds a lot like what they do here even though they try to disguise it a little more.

Chris McElroy

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Vittorio Bertola  –  Jan 19, 2006 7:01 AM PDT

And by the way, I think many people will shiver by reading the allegations that "ccTLD .br is under US control" and "Brazil is violating US laws and US public policies". It would be very interesting to see Lula sued in an American court for having managed the Brazilian ccTLD…

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Ronaldo Cardonetti  –  Jan 19, 2006 7:39 AM PDT

Well Chris McElroy:

In United States, at least you guys are fortunate to have competition, many accredited registrars and you can choose from godaddy to networksolutions to dotregistrar.

Here in Brazil we have Brazilian officials in charge of nic.br and registro.br

They are THE ONLY ones allowed to register ccTDL promoting censorship, manipulating domain auction, helping the telecoms "for a good'n old kick back" and slowing the Internet growth in Brazil therefore, lots of ISP's are running their servers in US for better pricing and flexibility and I am sure the Brazilian federal police is on top of this since envolves politicians supposily running an embezzlement scheme inside FAPESP and CGI to cover their cost for the upcoming presidential campaing funds.

Just like many Americans who are striving for a more just Internet in US I WON'T give up, I WON'T rest until I see justice being done. I do not know how this is helping however I am writting to every American government body even CIA, DoD, DoC and even the White House to ask for help to open new DNS's for Brazil and promote competiviness, even American companies & citizens are being herted by these anti-trust laws exercized by Brazilian official, people I PAY with my tax money to look after my interests and that's what they are doing, commiting crime against democracy & freedom.

I understand your point of view and as yourself I don't mean to make light of your concerns but Americans take for granted sometimes. I can not register slaing's,they are censured, I cannot register other words, they are "reserved" without an explanation, well our hands are tied.

The governor of São Paulo, the largest city in South America is running for president in Brazil, he might KNOWS what's going on and I gave him a TLD and I am promoting his friends ( who are saying in Brazil that the American Internet is STUPID ) I designed a brand new web page.

See for yourself:


Best wishes and thanks for you concern about our situation in the Brazilian Internet and keep freedom free!

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains John Palmer  –  Jan 19, 2006 9:10 AM PDT

Hi Vince: Here is my question:

When is ICANN going to stop limiting free trade and commerce by failing to recommend the immediate listing of all Inclusive Namespace TLDs in the USG Root?

When is ICANN going to recognize that INS TLD operators are real businesses with real employees and customers who are harmed by ICANN's failure to simply recognize these TLDs?

When is ICANN going to admit that the UDRP is nothing but a scam, allowing a special interest (WIPO) to use the namespace as a bludgeon against those who oppose it?

When is ICANN going to, therefore, remove the requirement that, in order to obtain a domain registration, that a registrant must agree to be bound by the UDRP, which is just a policy to allow rich and powerful interests to steal domains from poor people?

When is ICANN going to stick to its original mandate to simply be a book-keeper of IP addresses and TLDs and stop trying to impose business models on TLD operators?

ICANN is becoming a dinosaur and the world is rapidly moving away from it. ICANN will cease to be relevant in the world very shortly, and I would advise you to wake up to the reality around you. If you want to save ICANN as an influence on the Internet stage, you should change course right now by correcting the errors mentioned in my questions above.

Thanks for Listening,
John Palmer
President/CEO - American Webmasters, Inc/ADNS
OWNER/Operator of the .USA, .EARTH and .Z TLDs SINCE September 1995 (See LIST-Postel)

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains John Palmer  –  Jan 19, 2006 9:14 AM PDT


Sorry, typed too fast and didn't see the type-o

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Danny Lee Younger  –  Jan 20, 2006 12:12 PM PDT

Vint, when ICANN signed the MOU in 1998, it was given "oversight of the policy for determining the circumstances under which new top level domains would be added to the root system".  May I ask if you have personally reached a determination as to what those "circumstances" are?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Paul Hoffman  –  Jan 20, 2006 3:07 PM PDT

Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) are clearly very popular and useful. The only serious concern raised so far has been that of security in zones that do not carefully review IDNs being place in the zones. Of course, any IDN TLD will be carefully reviewed. Do you believe that there should be any concerns for including IDNs in the root zone beyond the normal semantic issues and, if so, what are those concerns? If there are no concerns, will applications for IDN TLDs be considered equal to non-IDN TLDs?

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains Chris McElroy  –  Jan 20, 2006 6:43 PM PDT

What is the exact reason that companies cannot introduce sTLDs without interference from ICANN except to make sure they are technically able to introduce their sTLD?

Chris McElroy

Re: Ask Vint Cerf: The Road Ahead for Top-Level Domains fnord  –  Jan 21, 2006 1:26 PM PDT

While the idea seems to be almost universally reviled, Paul Mockapetris said he wished with the DNS that he'd created (in so many words) a directory system impervious to control by lawyers, governments, and other worthies. I am unclear as to whether part of that wish was that he could have created a directory system. Certainly the original TLDs were a directory before NetSol/Verisign flattened the namespace out in pursuit of profit, and the likes of .tv were repurposed.

Given that ICANN has added new TLDs in a rather arbitrary, some might say capricious, manner, isn't it time to use some common sense and organize new TLDs in a manner similar to the yellow pages. To date we have ccTLDs used for gTLD purposes, we have generics like .biz, we have apparent categories like .museum, we have categories like .cat. This does no-one any good, I work with endusers every day and I've yet to meet anyone who understands it. Much as I'm normally no fan of committees, what would be wrong with creating a working group to come up with a plan to re-inject some taxonomy into the namespace? -g

PS: some posters should RTFM, it says one question per post.

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