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ICANN Violating Free Enterprise?

Chris McElroy

Message to ICANN: Let those who want to create a TLD, simply register it with ICANN.

If the TLD is not already taken, if they have the technical capability to mange the TLD, and they have the desire to market domain names on that TLD, then let them do so.

It should be similar to the registering of a domain name, except on a higher level, with the added technical requirements. ICANN should be sort of an upper-registry for TLDs.

It would be ludicrous for a domain name registrar like GoDaddy or eNom to ask you for a business plan, or a non-refundable application fee, before allowing you to register a domain name. It would be ridiculous for a registrar to have "rounds" of domain name releases of names "they chose" in advance.

Okay, this month, GoDaddy will be allocating cheaperwebhosting.com, doggrommingmadeeasy.net, and virtualinternetwebnetwork.net. We will be taking applications and public comment during the month of February. We will then spend another month reviewing the applicants business plans to decide who we will allocate the domain name to. If you are not approved to manage the domain name you apply for, your application fee will be held by GoDaddy until further notice.

Some people will say that is not a good analogy, but it is a perfect analogy. Here is why: If info.com was still available and I registered it. I could then start selling subdomains like car.info.com, computer.info.com, icann.info.com or any other subdomain someone wished to purchase from me. The subdomain is one dot removed from the domain name the same as the domain name is one dot removed from the TLD.

There is no longer any reason to believe ICANN is doing anything other than restricting free enterprise and free trade by not opening up the market for TLDs. It is no longer acceptable that ICANN should be the one to decide which TLDs will or will not be created nor is it acceptable that ICANN gets to choose who can or cannot run a TLD.

Do you present a businesss plan to the city you live in before they allow you a business license? No.

Does the city ask you to prove you are financially stable before issuing you a business license? No, as long as you pay the registration fee.

If you apply for a business license to open a clothing store, does the city ask how you will run your clothing store or if you have the necessary expertise to run a clothing store? No.

Does the city think you will hurt them economically if your clothing store goes out of business? No, it's none of their business.

Is the city concerned that there may not enough demand for yet another clothing store? No, again none of their business.

ICANN not allowing me, or anyone else in the world, to create a TLD of our choice in any language we choose, is a blatant violation of our rights. In many countries, America among them, the right to free enterprise still exists. ICANN is denying me that right as an American citizen and doing so when even their own organization exists under American law.

There are no needs for auctions or rounds or anything else. If you want to run a TLD, then you register it and start selling domain names. If you fail, you fail, just as in any other business venture you take on.

Artificially restricting namespace to make a few business intellectual property interests happy has to stop.

By Chris McElroy, Internet Business and Marketing Consultant
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Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, New TLDs
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Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Mike OConnor  –  May 20, 2006 5:04 PM PDT

Heh.  Interesting notion about the info.com registry.  Check out the corp.com, bar.com, pub.com and place.com registries that we brought up this weekend.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chris McElroy  –  May 21, 2006 9:29 PM PDT

It looks like anyone who wants to be in the TLD business will have to sell subdomains because ICANN isn't going to approve new TLDs that are commercially viable.

Something stinks in ICANN land and people are restraining trade illegally.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Mike OConnor  –  May 22, 2006 6:58 AM PDT

I think selling subdomains might be the way out of the logjam.  That approach would dramatically expand the domain-name space and is consistent with the way that ccTLDs are doing it. 

Subdomains are very flexible semantically — nobody is going to confuse a corp.com subdomain with a pub.com or a place.com subdomain. 

Besides, people are getting really used to subdomains — take a look at all the blogger.com and typepad.com subdomains that are out there already.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chris McElroy  –  May 22, 2006 7:10 AM PDT

I have one where I'm giving them away. It's a great place to talk about ICANN. LOL.

Seriously, most subdomains are given away, but if you had a real good domain name it is possible to sell subdomains. It makes you wonder. If I can just sell subdomains without going through the whole ICANT process, then why is it so hard to get a TLD?

http://www.thingsthatjustpissmeoff.com is the host where you can have a subdomain for free with blogging software already built in for you. No one has domain.thingsthatjustpissmeoff.com yet.

Maybe I should build that one myself.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? John Palmer  –  May 22, 2006 11:16 AM PDT

Ahaa - you understand the issue well! And the thats a good question - "Why?"

Answer: ICANN's constituents are not the internet users nor participants in the DNS industry (actually only a few). They
serve the four monopolies that have caputured the organization along time ago.

They are monopolies. This means they want to shut out competition, not encorage it. Your attempts to reason with ICANN will not work because their motivation is to maintain the stranglehold on the industry by keeping out the free market.

You will never convince ICANN. The only solution is to support the Inclusive Namespace roots and help educate users that they can break free from ICANN's clutches.

You cannot expect an organization that violated its basic charge to play fair. ICANN was required to operate as a bottom-up, consensus driven, democratic organization, but even before the ink was dry on the MOU, they started shutting out the community from the decision making process and started to stray into policy areas when all they were supposed to do was to be a technical caretaker.

The game is rigged, and has been from day 1.

Now, lets see how long this post lasts before the CircleID moderators delete it like they did my last post. I know whose pockets they are in.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chris McElroy  –  May 22, 2006 11:58 AM PDT

I don't think circleid.com will take it down. They moderated my article and decided to allow it. Good discussions are good business.

You are right that ICANN has been captured by big business and was always part of the US gov anyway no matter how they attempt to mask it.

But unless we all keep writing about it and keep writing congressmen and senators and in general making sure even the unintersted part of the public is aware of what is really going on.

They are folding to pressure from groups who don't want any new TLDs created and who like the current system as it is.

More than one company has the same trademark but for different services. By having a sunrise period that is easily manipulated whenever a new tld is introduced they make sure that companies who already have a domain name in the dot com namespace for their TM to also control it in every new namespace created essentially blocking others with the same TM from getting their matching domain name in any tld.

ICANN is engaged in illegally restraining trade. If I want to start a new tld, my business plan is none of their business, my poilitical beliefs, my religious beliefs, my race, or anything else does not matter. I should be able to create and mange my own tld as long as I am technically capable of doing so or I can show that I am working with someone who can technically run it for me.

I see the chance for companies to crop up and offer to manage the tlds we create for us for a percentage of every domain name we sell or for a flat monthly or yearly rate.

Someone might want to pick that plan apart, but understand I know there are a few other issues that would have to be dealt with to make that actually work. This is just a general idea of how it could be accomplished.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Admin  –  May 22, 2006 12:34 PM PDT

Mr. John Palmer said:

Now, lets see how long this post lasts before the CircleID moderators delete it like they did my last post. I know whose pockets they are in.

Please revisit CircleID Codes of Conduct — in particular code number 1. Posts in violation of these codes are subject to deletion. Your deleted posts were strongly determined to have violated CircleID's codes of conduct which have been put in place to enhance constructive communication among all participants.

Thank You,
CircleID Admin.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Ram Mohan  –  May 22, 2006 12:51 PM PDT

Registries are often considered to be more like public utilities than retail stores.  There is an expectation of performance and upkeep regardless of size or volume or traffic or attacks; failure is not well tolerated.

In 2001 VeriSign created an IDN registry that was built on pre-standard systems.  It eventually failed - and turned off a lot of people from ever buying IDNs again (not to mention the fact that they paid $$ for a service that never seemed to work).

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Mike OConnor  –  May 22, 2006 1:42 PM PDT

Hi Ram, I think you've hit the crux of the debate. On the one hand is a regulated-industries environment, which is used in the case of a "natural monopoly" (inside-baseball term, that) to ensure customer-service, fairness, access, equitable pricing, etc.  Monopoly providers of services, and their constituents, are motivated to get very good at managing the process of regulation.

On the other hand a free-market environment implies multiple entrants and market-forces determining things like pricing, service quality, etc.  Free-market providers of services are motivated to get really good at providing high-quality competitively-priced services to customers.

I wonder if it is possible to permit both to exist in the Internet framework — regulated-industry models applied to some portions of the name space, free-market models applied to others.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? John Palmer  –  May 22, 2006 2:11 PM PDT

All I did in my post was to post an article critical of ICANN. Is it against the policy of this board to criticize ICANN? Who determines what gets deleted?

Also, you go and delete posts and don't even send the poster a notification. How nice. Well, its your (ICANN's) board, so I guess you can do what you want.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chuck Crawford  –  May 22, 2006 2:25 PM PDT

Well written article.  Very informative.

I don't know much about this stuff, but I do find it frustrating that I have to check all of the cc tld's to find a decent domain these days.

I thank you all for the free education you're giving me here!

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Wes Felter  –  May 22, 2006 7:57 PM PDT

The problem with selling subdomains is that the customers have no due process. ICANN's processes may not be good, but at least there seems to be some regulation in place. But given the drawn-out sex.com lawsuit, maybe it just doesn't matter.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Mike OConnor  –  May 22, 2006 8:25 PM PDT

Gotta come back on that "due process" thingy.  Customers in a free market have lots of due process.  If providers do a crummy job, customers can do all kinds of things, all the way from complaining, to switching to another provider, to suing, to writing critical blogs, to putting up web-sites featuring animated arm-pit actions and pointing out the deficiencies of the provider.  Some service providers take legendary care of their customers and develop fanatical followings, others are crummy and are left lonely.

The regulatory issue seems key to me — if you think something is a natural monopoly, then you *have* to have a regulatory body to represent the rights of the stakeholders (I would posit with the attendant risk of that regulatory body being captured by those it regulates).  But maybe the Emporer hasn't many clothes — maybe this domain-name gizmo isn't a natural monopoly at all — maybe we're treating the domain-name space that way out of habit, or because influential interest groups think they will lose big-time if we *stop* treating it so.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chris McElroy  –  May 22, 2006 8:29 PM PDT

As much as anywhere really. ICANN wasn't set up as a policy review board, nor a financial advisor, nor an accountability board, nor a public policy creator.

It was set up to ensure technical stability. Therefore they are not in a position to guarantee users anything.

If you or I decided to go into the business of managing a TLD and sell domain names, guess what? Our business plan might fail. There might be people who lose financially because we failed in our business venture.

But businesses go out of business all the time and in some cases it causes others to lose jobs and money due to the failure of those businesses.

There are legal remedies in place for these things already. ICANN does not need to make sure we don't fail. It's none of their business. Their job is to make sure we were technically capable of running the TLD. Their job stops there.

By reviewing financial plans then approving them, if the business then fails and people lose money, they could sue the failed business then add ICANN as "also named" in the lawsuit for approving the failed business plan in the first place.

Don't say that can't happen in this litigious society. It can happen. ICANN is not supposed to even put themselves in that position.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chris McElroy  –  May 22, 2006 8:34 PM PDT

I was answering the post wes made mike. But Mike you make a good point and I agree 100%. There are already ways to deal with bad business management. ICANN doesn't need to be involved at all in that.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Rob Larkins  –  May 31, 2006 5:49 PM PDT

I'm critical of the TLDs ICANN has been approving but I don't think running TLDs the same way we run SLDs is the answer. For people who think that ICANN approves too few TLDs, think about this: letting anyone register any TLD they wanted would be equivalent to having no TLDs at all, as everyone scrambles to register the name of their company/site as a TLD. Addresses would become http://example instead of http://example.com or example.net. People wouldn't settle for a SLD when they could have a TLD all to themselves. Practically that would result in fewer usable domain names, not more. Also note that most of the newer TLDs have gone virtually unused. I don't think there's any great clamor for new TLDs… most people seem to be able to find combinations that satisfy them within .com, .net, and .org. All the newer TLDs put together make up less than 8% of all the TLDs registered.

According to Wikipedia…

"The technical work of ICANN is referred to as the IANA function; the rest of ICANN is mostly about defining policy."

To me that implies that part of ICANN's directive was to formulate TLD policy. I'd compare ICANN more to the FCC than to a city giving out business licenses. If a business goes bankrupt customers can switch to someone else. If a DNS server goes offline parts of the internet become unreachable. It's important that we have institutions and regulations to protect all the infrastructure of the internet, and that includes delegation of domain names.

The secret is in approving enough TLDs so that there are plentiful combinations of domains, but not so many TLDs that people have difficulty remembering which TLDs apply to which sites, and all the while making sure that the semantics of domain names are organized in ways that make sense. The original TLDs all designate institutions or national affiliation. I think most people would agree that they've worked out very well, and I think all future TLDs should be created in the same spirit unless we have very good reasons to do something different.

For people who want access to every-TLD-under-the-sun types systems, there are alternate roots that almost provide it. Personally I like the OpenNIC alt. root because I believe it's democratic nature could lead to a common sense approach to creating new TLDs that's potentially superior to ICANN's bureaucratic approach (which has IMO led to some rather questionable TLD decisions IMO). Depending how it developes I might like to see it replace ICANN. But that's because I want better TLDs, not an unlimited array of them.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? John Palmer  –  May 31, 2006 6:36 PM PDT

And why do you think Wiki is the authoritative cat's meow about anything? Anyone can submit information to Wiki and it isn't checked for accuracy. The US DOC never intended nor charged ICANN with setting policy, only to be a technical caretaker.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? John Palmer  –  May 31, 2006 6:58 PM PDT

Don't know how long it will last but I have corrected some of the errors in the WIKI item about ICANN and have included additional information exposing the organization for what it really is.

Re: ICANN Violating Free Enterprise? Chris McElroy  –  May 31, 2006 8:25 PM PDT

All the newer TLDs put together make up less than 8% of all the TLDs registered.

Because the tlds they have approved are not commercially viable. Give me dot realestate and I'll sell more domain names than dot net ever did within 2 years.

The original TLDs all designate institutions or national affiliation. I think most people would agree that they’ve worked out very well,

Then you think wrong. I run a nonprofit organization and I can tell you that dot org does not properly represent organizations. Charities don't own even a decent percentage of dot org names. So you assuming everyone is happy and thinks it worked out well is pretty much speculation on your part.

You assume also that people are finding domain names that are fine with them. No they are scrambling to pick up the leftover scraps and maybe you just haven't noticed.

If there was no shortage, domain names would not be resold for the amounts they are being resold for. Rules of supply and demand prove my point.

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