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Username: Ray Armstrong
Date/Time: Sat, October 28, 2000 at 7:51 AM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V5.0 using Windows 98
Score: 5
Subject: .health TLD - better or worse?


      While the idea of having an instantly recognisable 'marker' for e-health information trustworthiness or quality (or both? This isn't completely clear) is at first sight attractive, there are a number of points which cast doubt on the wisdom of restricting Web publishing in this way.

Setting up and then policing this domain in the way that is proposed sounds a rather Herculean task. Has the amount of work involved been thought through? While there are emerging consensus standards for e-health behaviour on the Web (e.g. Washington e-Health Code of Ethics) voluntary adherence to the standards is just that and implementing any enforcement mechanism sounds rather ambitious if it is to span the entire breadth of e-health publishing.  Existing TLDs at least have the merit of enabling the user to have a reasonable idea as to whether the information has been posted for commercial gain.  Trust marks and seals are of questionable value as stated but there are interesting initiatives under way such as MedCERTAIN.

The idea of restricting registration by applicants on the basis of standards set by one organisation (however admirable the WHO may be) seems out of step with the ethos of the Web.  It's one thing allocating domain names on the basis of the type of content.  It's quite another to start demanding to set controls on other aspects of content such as quality, provenance and so on.

I think we need to know more about how this proposal would be implemented, maintained and developed.  As things stand, there is an argument for leaving quality assessment to third parties.

Link: ILAR - International League of Associations for Rheumatology

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