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.XXX and Conservative Groups

Patrick Vande Walle

By now, you should have read elsewhere that the ICANN board has rejected the ICM application to create a .XXX TLD.

It still comes as a surprise to some. Frankly, this was the prognosis I made to Stuart Lawley two years ago, for the very reasons mentioned by the European Commission. I mentioned in a previous blog entry that 6000 complaints from US citizens would have more weight on the conservative US administration than any other consideration. Had the ICANN board approved .XXX, I bet that it would have been blocked by the DoC at a later stage, ie in the IANA-DoC-Verisign root zone update process.

This is clearly a political decision by ICANN. Rather than restrict itself to its role of keeping the security and stability of the domain name system, ICANN went on to examine irrelevant criteria, like how the porn industry supported the initiative. It would have been ICM's right to try and sell .XXX TLDs with or without a potential market. It is not up to ICANN to decide if a business plan makes sense or not. The only thing ICANN should care about is that the registry should be able to run the TLD from a technical point of view until the end of the contract. Whether it is successful or not is not ICANN's business.

Again, I am not convinced that .XXX would have allowed to corral the porn sites in a specific domain and might have helped in any way to prevent anyone from viewing porn. The filters set up by the governments of China or Saudi Arabia are much more efficient. On a side note, they are also more efficient than labelling initiatives like ICRA. This web site has been labelled with ICRA, but after one year, I have yet to see any visiting browser actually using that label.

By Patrick Vande Walle, All around Internet governance troublemaker
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Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Chris McElroy  –  May 17, 2006 8:16 PM PDT

All good points!

1. No dot xxx would not affect the porn industry except the ability to get some new domain names for more porn websites.

2. ICANN was way out of their area of ability and purpose. They are not supposed to be a policy organization nor the Internet police. They have a mandate to be a technical authority for domain names only.

3. It is also true that it is none of ICANN's business what anyone's business plan is nor the viability of a particular business plan. They are not business plan experts and requiring a company to provide their business plan which may be confidential so competitors do not get a jump on them is wrong in the first place. Their job is to make sure the company is "technically" capable of running a TLD only.

What is not mentioned in your article is the fact that there are some major corporations that influence ICANN's every move.

These corporations have an interest in dot com being the only commercially viable TLD.

ICANN has approved dot aero, dot museum, and now dot mobi and dot tel none of which could ever possibly compete with dot com.

They refuse to listen to people like myself on the GNSO mailing list asking for alternatives to the limited dot com namespace.

Trademark conflicts abound due to the generic quality of dot com. If they took the classes from the USPTO and made TLDs to represent each class, then a trademark holder would undoubtably be entitled to the domain name that matches their mark AND the class for which it was registered.

These TLDs would all be commercially viable as well.

Using a phone book is something most people know how to do. If TLDs were created that matched topics in an average phone book, the system would be easy to use.

dot plumber, dot electrician, dot lawyer or dot attorney, dot cpa, dot appliances, etc. would all be commercially viable TLDs yet ICANN's BoD says this would be confusing. Yes it would to anyone who doesn't know how to use a phone book!

ICANN is playing a game. They release TLDs that have no chance to compete with dot com to create an artificila shortage of domain names and to please their corporate puppetmasters.

That is why everytime a new TLD is introduced they have a "sunrise" period so corporations can snap their prime real estate up on every new TLD.

Many argue that TM owners have a right to their name in every TLD. Not true. TM holders have the right to use that string of letters they registered in commerce under only a specific class. They do not have the rights to own that string of letters regardless of their use.

Long comment but this is something I've been fighting with ICANN over for about 6 years now.

Chris McElroy AKA NameCritic

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Martin Hannigan  –  May 17, 2006 10:13 PM PDT

"They have a mandate to be a technical authority for domain names only."

Chris, they are also mandated for IP addresses. The critical mass phraseology is "unique identifier".
ICANN is far less in control of IP addressing than DNS, but they are still "technically" mandated.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Chris McElroy  –  May 17, 2006 10:28 PM PDT

True. My post was intended to point out that ICANN is a technical body and political issues should not be their concern.

Chris McElroy AKA NameCritic

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Patrick Vande Walle  –  May 18, 2006 1:18 AM PDT

These corporations have an interest in dot com being the only commercially viable TLD.

ICANN has approved dot aero, dot museum, and now dot mobi and dot tel none of which could ever possibly compete with dot com.

I am not convinced at all that .XXX would have taken any business away from .com, if only for the fact that any serious entrepreneur would also register in .com for defensive purposes.

If it wants competition at the registry level (ie several registries sharing the same TLD), ICANN should think about replacing the current DNS system. There are proposals on the table, like CoDoNS. I see no signs there is a willingness to do so.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups The Famous Brett Watson  –  May 18, 2006 6:37 AM PDT

Patrick Vande Walle said, "… ICANN should think about replacing the current DNS system."

Under absolutely no circumstances should ICANN even contemplate such a thing: it is completely outside their mandate. Such a system would be handled in various aspects by the IRTF, IETF, and IAB. Once a viable protocol was produced, the IANA (ICANN) would be responsible for managing the identifiers in the system, if tradition is to be followed. Of course, given the current state of affairs, there may be compelling reasons to break with tradition to some degree.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Rob Larkins  –  May 31, 2006 6:30 PM PDT

dot plumber, dot electrician, dot lawyer or dot attorney, dot cpa, dot appliances, etc. would all be commercially viable TLDs yet ICANN’s BoD says this would be confusing. Yes it would to anyone who doesn’t know how to use a phone book!

TLDs aren't meant to be directories (like a phone book). They're meant to assist in resolving addresses. There are search engines and directory sites that do the directory work.

In addition, the .pro TLD is or could be equipped to handle all the professions you mention except for "appliances", and it's my preferance to have a single TLD for all professionals rather than 200 or more TLDs, one for each type. While it sounds intuitive to have a different TLD for each profession, it would be impossible for the average person to remember which jobs had what TLD. Is it ".engineer" or ".electricalengineer"? Is it ".nurse" or ".ra"? ".programmer" or "softwareengineer"? I don't even know what .cpa stands for. It would get confusing. With ".pro" it's all simple, unless you follow their system of subdomains which I think allows for things like "http://[somebody].laywer.pro" ... that has it's uses too, and can do everything your TLD system would allow all without cluttering the TLD space with extra TLDs. The downside is it's longer, but once you understand how it works it's no harder to remember than your system would be. It has the added benefit that all ".pro" domains are limited to credentialled professionals.

I also prefer TLDs to be short, and ".electrician" is too long for me. But then I thought ".museum" was too long too.

Now ".pro" isn't used much (yet) because people aren't used to it. But I like to think that over time it'll pick up steam. And because it's spread across many professions it'll pick up steam faster than it would if there were 200 different TLDs out there, and people had to get used to each one individually. If people aren't going to accept ".pro" I doubt they'd accept a system with even more variance. ICANN has made some mistakes, but I think ".pro" wasn't one of them.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Chris McElroy  –  May 31, 2006 8:16 PM PDT

It would get confusing. With “.pro” it’s all simple, unless you follow their system of subdomains which I think allows for things like “http://[somebody].laywer.pro” ... that has it’s uses too, and can do everything your TLD system would allow all without cluttering the TLD space with extra TLDs. The downside is it’s longer, but once you understand how it works it’s no harder to remember than your system would be. It has the added benefit that all “.pro” domains are limited to credentialled professionals.

You say the tlds I suggested would be too long to remember then you suggested a longer subdomain of dot pro would be simple to remember.

Sorry, I really have to say your logic here is difficult to follow.

The dowside is that it is long. Well yes that is a downside. More tlds equal more short domain names available to register.

Pretty simple concept and not cluttered at all. Again, anyone who can use a phonebook could use the system. In addition to that it is up to the company with the website to get users to find their website.

Right now there is a shortage of good domain names. If you do not think so then I guess you haven't seen the prices speculators are getting for domain names. High prices are due to demand over-reaching availability in any market. SO this pretty much proves the shortage exists.

Dot pro limits registration to registered professionals. Where do I apply for my web designer's license? My license as a writer? How do I get a dot pro if I am a writer? Again dot pro is good for doctors, lawyers, etc. But if I was a lawyer I'd rather have dot atty or dot law or dot lawyer any day.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups The Famous Brett Watson  –  Jun 01, 2006 9:35 PM PDT

Some of the comments here might lead one to believe that the ".pro" registry works in a certain way, where the actual practice is rather different. For example, the domain "sex.pro" was registered on 2004-06-01. The same registrant obtained "porn.pro" on 2004-08-02. If that surprises you, then you probably have a few misconceptions about ".pro" in general.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Chris McElroy  –  Jun 01, 2006 9:43 PM PDT

Hi Brett. I haven't even looked at .pro. I was just going by what was said on the thread earlier. The point was dot pro isn't the answer to the shortage of good domain names.

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Ram Mohan  –  Jun 02, 2006 1:16 AM PDT

Rob Larkins said: "TLDs aren’t meant to be directories (like a phone book)."

Might I suggest a quick peek over here to .tel's now approved application to ICANN?

Re: .XXX and Conservative Groups Chris McElroy  –  Jun 02, 2006 7:51 AM PDT

Good point Ram. I think .tel was a ridiculous addition but I'm for introducing new TLDs. But with dot xxx they talked of all the porn websites being moved onto that TLD. Does that mean I have to get a dot tel domain name now for the "contact us" page in all my websites?

In addition to that, TLDs weren't meant to be representative of trademarks either, but we're having to deal with that too.

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