Feb. 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM ET
If nations get the power to veto Internet domain names, as the U.S. Department of Commerce suggests, forget about .gay or .humanrights joining the ranks of Internet suffixes such as .com, .org or .info.
The International Committee on Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), the nonprofit group in charge of Internet domain names, is meeting in San Francisco next month to discuss this and other proposals for handling newly proposed generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).
Observers find this nation veto proposal worrisome, Ars Technica reports:
Here's the issue: The US wants yet another criterion added to ICANN's guidebook draft for the five-month-long "Initial Evaluation" period for gTLD applications. Members of the nonprofit's Government Advisory Committee — that is to say, the representatives to ICANN from any country — could object to a gTLD "for any reason."
In other words, proposed domain endings such as .gay and .humanrights wouldn’t have a chance if nations wishing to censor those topics from their citizens are allowed veto domain names.
That the U.S. would author such a proposal is especially troublesome, points out Syracuse University Information Studies professor Milton Mueller:
"If governments believe that gays (or other controversial ideas and communities) have a right to express their identity, they would not make their ability to get a domain name reflecting their identity contingent upon a review by a world government committee in which some members are sure to be hostile to their culture and lifestyle. Any government that really wants to uphold individual rights would not do what the U.S. is doing."
The ICANN San Francisco gathering includes advisory committee working group sessions on March 13 and a full ICANN board meeting on March 18.
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