June 19, 2011

The Shame on the Internet: ICANN Votes to Massively Enrich the Domain-Industrial Complex

As expected, ICANN has voted overwhelmingly to approve their disgraceful plan for a vast increase in generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

Some observers are expecting hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent quickly in the resulting environment, thanks to the associated "gold rush" and "buy protection for your brand" mentalities being explicitly promoted.

I suspect that is a lowball estimate. I believe we may see billions of dollars being wasted in ICANN's new gigantic gTLD "domain name space" -- mostly from firms falsely hoodwinked into thinking that new domain names will be their paths to Internet riches, and from firms trying to protect their names in this vastly expanded space, ripe for abuses.

This massive money flow will funnel overwhelmingly directly to the relatively few entities, mainly registries, registrars, and ICANN itself, at the top of the "domain-industrial complex" pyramid.

The negative impacts of this fiasco on ordinary consumers and Internet users will ultimately become all too clear, as the resulting effects of massively increased cybersquatting, spammers, and phishing take hold.

But apart from that, with the world still in the grips of an economic crisis that threatens to become desperately worse at any moment, the ethically vacuous nature of this entire plan is obvious.

Could all or part of that money just perhaps be used in better ways than for the creation and maintenance of an artificial "must buy whether you want it or not" form of "domain names" product -- that does absolutely nothing to advance or solve the many crucial technical, policy, blocking, neutrality, censorship, and free speech issues that are at the forefront of the Internet today -- a "product" that may actually exacerbate blocking and censorship?

Has the horrific economic saga of the last few years taught us nothing? Is there no sense of ethical or moral outrage among those persons who are truly concerned about creating the best possible future for the entire Internet and Internet community, not just for a comparatively few "domain exploitation" tycoons and would-be tycoons?

Do we care enough to consider alternative approaches? Or as usual, we will sit by and watch perhaps mankind's most important communications tool in history be further subverted for the benefit of the few?

We shall see.


Posted by Lauren at June 19, 2011 11:57 PM | Permalink
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