Monday, July 02, 2007

Liberating Internet Domain Names...

As this Boing Boing article describes, Wendy Seltzer has written an essay calling for ICANN - the organization that controls the entire domain name system for the internet - to let go its tight control and liberate the DNS system. Right now, the top-level domains are limited to only a few in number, including .COM, .EDU, .ORG, and nation-specific suffixes. Seltzer is arguing that restricting these in such a way is counter-productive and unnecessary, and that freeing the system to let market forces determine the most applicable domains will prevent "aging the internet prematurely".

To make this readable for those of you not so tech-savvy, here's a super-brief primer. In order to get a domain name like, you have to register it with ICANN, who makes sure that no one else already has the name you want. This is the prime example of how the internet can be, and already is being, governed. But as with any system of control there are drawbacks. For instance, a debate has been going on within ICANN for years about how to expand the domain names available. Should there be a .SEX or .XXX to signify adult content? If there are currently nation-specific suffixes like .AU for Australia and .IL for Israel, then should there also be city and locality suffixes like .BERLIN? What possible justification could there be for not allowing me to create http://robert.domanski other than control simply for control's sake?

Thus far, ICANN has been extremely conservative in its willingness to expand the list of domain name suffixes available, and this is what Seltzer is proposing needs to be changed. On the surface, this has all the characteristics of the classic internet battle... Would cyberspace be better off with more control or less? How would the internet experience be enhanced by the trade-off between freedom vs. control?

Seltzer (who, by the way, is on the ICANN board of directors) argues convincingly that in the domain name policy environment, letting go of the reigns of control and letting market forces decide will ultimately be a trade off worth making. Prohibitive restrictions that only serve to protect entrenched interests work against the ethos by which the internet was created and flourished, and should be done away with. This is a lesson which applies not only to the narrow issue of domain names, but also to many other facets of internet governance and policymaking as well.


At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.


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