November 03, 2010

It's Time to Stop ICANN's Top-Level Domain (TLD) Lunacy!

Greetings. I'm going to keep this relatively short and sweet, since I've written of my concerns about ICANN's handling of Top-Level Domains (TLDs) many times in the past.

The existing Domain Name System (DNS) has been leveraged in multiple ways into something akin to a protection racket, with vast sums of money being funneled to existing and wannabe registries, registrars -- and to ICANN itself -- with little or no resulting tangible benefits to the Internet community at large. That is, unless you consider ever increasing levels of costs and confusion to be some sort of benefits. Dot-com is still the single TLD that most Internet users recognize as fundamental among the increasingly disruptive clutter -- and you haven't seen anything yet compared with the pandemonium about to be unleashed.

"Protective registrations" by trademark owners and other concerned parties in new TLDs have become an enormous profit center for various players in the DNS ecosystem, with boasting about the income that will be derived through such arm-twisting techniques now being commonplace.

The amount of money involved is staggering. In a few days, ICANN may release their new "guidebook" for upcoming TLD applicants. The application fee alone for a single new TLD is reported to be almost $200K, payable to ICANN. The cost of running a new TLD if you're accepted? A whole bunch, likely including (but not limited to) big moola to ICANN every year.

ICANN plans to limit the number of new TLDs to only (only???) about 1000 per year -- maybe half that in the first year. Let's see, $185,000 times 1000 ... Nice chunk of change.

Of course, ICANN claims that these fees are justified by the costs involved in processing these applications. Assuming this is true, I can't think of a better proof that the entire process is rotten and dysfunctional to the core.

The DNS and the domain name infrastructure made sense in an era before the universal availability of search engines and online directories. But for such massive costs and complexities -- such as those inevitably stemming from the ICANN TLD expansion -- to be incurred simply to map names to Internet sites is now both technically and economically obsolete and abominable.

It's time to end the TLD madness. It will take both time and some heavy lifting. But there are alternative methodologies -- more efficient, extensible, and far more economical, much better suited to the Internet of the 21st century, and we need to start working on them now.

Vested interests -- basically the entire "domain-industrial complex" -- who stand to profit mightily by exploiting the continuation and expansion of the unnecessary, counterproductive, and obsolete domain name system, can be expected to fight any efforts at significant changes, using every weapon in their arsenals. Various other parties will also fight such changes -- since as we've increasingly seen the DNS provides an ideal mechanism for centralized censorship and heavy-handed intellectual property enforcement regimes -- through the disabling on demand of Web site name-based addressability.

Be that all as it may, this is a battle -- nay, perhaps a war -- necessary for the best interests of both the Internet and its global community of users.

Please let me know if you'd be interested in participating.

Thanks. Take care.


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Blog Update (November 30, 2010): Announcing Project IDONS: Internet Distributed Open Name System

Posted by Lauren at November 3, 2010 04:19 PM | Permalink
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