Return to tldapps Forum - Message Thread - FAQ

Username: Bunjie
Date/Time: Wed, November 1, 2000 at 12:36 AM GMT
Browser: Netscape Communicator V4.72 using Windows 95
Score: 5
Subject: Good consultative process is the key


                                If the Internet is a sprawling frontier town, then WHO's proposed .health TLD should be seen as a legitimate bid for leadership in the joint construction and administration of the Net's first safe neighbourhood for respectable e-health sites and their users. 

The bid's success will depend on the membership of the development consortium and how it is run. Based on recent discussions, I believe that WHO intends to draw heavily upon the experience, know-how and ongoing help of other organizations and initiatives that are already promoting responsible self-regulation in e-health.

These are likely to include the Health On the Net Foundation, whose HONcode since 1996 has become an ethical standard for the health Internet (see link), and at least three other initatives launched in 2000: the American Medical Association's code for affiliated sites, the Internet Healthcare Coalition's sweeping eHealth Code of Ethics and the Hi-Ethics Alliance code for commercial destination sites in the U.S.A. Indeed, a flowering of fresh initiatives now underway in France, The Netherlands and elsewhere shows the need for broad organizational coordination and consultation is growing.

Some messages in this string ask pointed and legitimate questions. There is no doubt that Internet libertarians, of which I am one, will fight the slightest hint of arbitrariness, arrogance or censorship. Has WHO diligently and realistically assessed potential conflicts of interest? Is there not good cause to fear unnecessary meddling by WHO's main constituents, the national governments? When and how will the organizational and ethical criteria for admission as a .health site be defined?

Yet I believe that our next-door neighbour here in Geneva is aware of the pitfalls and will work hard to avoid them. If WHO will deliberately call for a collaborative effort as it brings its .health TLD sponsorship, its worldwide resources, reach, recognizability and global-health mandate to the table, then it could actually accelerate the building of trust in e-health. This is a made-for-Internet opportunity that, despite the many reservations, we should seize.

Timothy Nater
Executive Director
Health On the Net Foundation
Geneva, Switzerland
Health On the Net Foundation



Link: HON

Message Thread:

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Cookies Policy