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||"Dirt in The Domain Name Game"
Dirt in the domain name game
Insiders hoard the goods
By Brock N. Meeks
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 — The global land rush for control of new Internet domains
that will compete in dot-com space is beginning to take on the familiar stink of
the Olympic games site selection scandal. A small cabal of insiders appear to be
gaming the selection process that will soon determine who will win the right to control
new domains such as .xxx, .kids or .web.
IT ALL STARTS with the controversial
organization known as ICANN or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
The non-profit group was hand picked by the Department of Commerce to transition
the assignment of Internet domain names from a monopoly to a competitive environment.
What ICANN has mostly done is create controversy with
every decision, while turning itself into a de facto model for global Internet governance,
a task it was never supposed to undertake.
between ICANN and its legions of critics is as thick as the peanut butter on a two-year-old’s
sandwich. Truth is, ICANN has manufactured most of its own troubles, starting with
a stupefying bent toward secrecy, while pledging to operate in a spirit of consensus
ICANN’s proceedings and board meetings
have only recently been held out for public accountability and scrutiny. And that
was a begrudging concession to a ground swell of public criticism.
Then just last week we learn that a crucial ICANN policy committee was
created and is meeting secret. That committee is meant to provide recommendations
on the implementation of certain aspects of the popular “whois” database, which lists
the owners of Web sites.
One law professor has even
stronger words for the ICANN debacle: “In lending ICANN its control” over the domain
name space, the Department of Commerce “created a system in which social policy is
made not by due process of law but by something that begins to resemble government-sponsored
extortion,” writes Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami School
of Law in a law review article for the Duke Law Journal.
New domain name bids unveiled
DIRT IN THE DOMAINS
There are three generic top-level domain names right now: .com,
.org and .net. By far the most coveted is .com. However, the dot-com space has nearly
reached its saturation point. Trademark conflicts abound. And just try to find an
available two or three letter dot-com — you’d have better luck finding sweat on a
That scarcity forced ICANN to choke on
its hairball policy that new domains couldn’t be introduced for fear of crashing
the entire Net, and it began the process of taking applications to create new domains.
The ground rules noted that anyone could submit an application
to run a new domain, a potentially lucrative business that can return hundreds of
millions of dollars in annual revenue.
But the brutal
truth is, ICANN didn’t want just anyone to submit a proposal, so they imposed what
amounted to a digital poll tax: all applicants had to pony up a non-refundable $50,000
check. Some 47 applications were received, pouring $2.35 million into ICANN’s cash
And none of the applicants is guaranteed
it will get to run a new domain; ICANN hasn’t even decided how many new domains to
create. Estimates range from three to 12, but hundreds of new domains were proposed
in the bidding.
See the complete list of proposed
top-level domains, vote on the ones you think should be chosen, and see what readers'
But one group of players has seen to
it that they have an inside track in being selected to run one of the new domains.
Members of a newly created company called the Afilias
Group have, in one way or another, managed to get their hooks into more than one-third
of the domain proposals. Members of Afilias include the current monopoly domain name
registry owner, Network Solutions, Inc.
is key and differs from a “registrar.” There are dozens of the latter; these companies
will register your chosen Web site name for a fee. But it’s the Network Solutions
registry that is the cash cow.
Every registrar has
to pay a registry fee to Network Solutions for every new dot-com-this or dot-com-that
it creates. The registry is the central clearinghouse that keeps track of all those
domain names and its profits go only to Network Solutions, which is now owned by
That Network Solutions is even being allowed to participate
in the creation of new domains is a travesty.
Afilias also counts CORE among its members. CORE grew out of a group that tried unsuccessfully,
a couple of years ago, to pull off what can only be called the first coup d’etat
in cyberspace. CORE set up its own company and registrars and said it alone would
create new domains and be governed in U.N. fashion, under Swiss bylaws. The attempt
failed and CORE was reduced to treading water waiting for ICANN to bless the creation
of new domain names.
That Network Solutions is even
being allowed to participate, in any way, in the creation of new domains is a travesty.
The U.S. government created Network Solutions’ monopoly in the first place and then
spawned ICANN as a means to help introduce competition into the domain name market.
ICANN apparently forgot to look up “competition” in the dictionary.
If one of a few new domains goes to “a group of registrars who collectively
already have 98 percent of the .com, .net and .org market, one would have to ask,
‘why?’” says Milton Mueller, Associate Professor, Syracuse University School of Information
Studies. “It seems to be not only bad competition policy, but raises fundamental
concerns about how ICANN operates, because the organization would appear to be incapable
of awarding resources to anyone but its own insiders.”
SHOOTOUT AT THE .WEB CORRAL
I suppose the real
test of whether ICANN has the political will to “do the right thing” will come with
its decision over who gets to run the .web domain, which surveys show is the most
desired new domain.
Small catch: .web already belongs
to Image Online Design.
Image Online Design has been
running an alternative domain name registry using .web since 1996; that registry
has attracted about 20,000 paying .web domain name holders.
has refused to recognize Image Online Design’s efforts when in fact it could specifically
set aside .web under a “pioneer’s preference” exemption, much like the Federal Communications
Commission has done when handing out slices of the airwaves to companies that have
pioneered particular technologies.
Now Image Online
Design finds itself fighting for what is clearly its own intellectual property. One
of those bidding against it is — big shocker — the Afilias group.
Image Online Design CEO John Frangie said the Afilias bid for .web is
led by the “world’s greatest monopolistic force: NSI.” Frangie then goes on to say
that Network Solutions has “put together a cartel of 19 companies to capture even
more market share,” noting that the Afilias proposal is a “cynical attempt to enhance
the entrenched monopoly of NSI” and thereby “perverting the very process that ICANN
established to increase competition.”
I couldn’t have
said it better.
And just finish off this murky tale, the other bidder for .web is listed as NeuStar,
which as it turns out is really “JVTeam,” a “new company formed by NeuStar and Melbourne
IT,” its application says. The latter of those two is a member of CORE and thus also
a member of Afilias. Smell a trend here?
Wallow through this JVTeam
bid for .web long enough and you come across this statement:
“JVTeam is prepared to meet with ICANN and discuss any legal issue relating to a
.web registry. If necessary, JVTeam will indemnify ICANN for legal expenses incurred
by ICANN resulting from any legal challenges brought regarding a grant of the .web
registry to JVTeam.”
I’m sure they didn’t mean to try
and bribe ICANN, but it sure sounds like the old comedy sketch where a conniving
driver, pulled over for speeding, hands the cop his license wrapped in a $50 bill.
ICANN will deliver its decision on new domain names in November.
The group can redeem itself, if ever so slightly, by outright dismissing all proposals
from established players in the domain name space. But don’t hold your breath.
Although ICANN says it is looking out for the stability of the
Internet as it tries to micromanage the domain name space, that argument flies with
the all the grace of a penguin. ICANN is cowed by big money interests. And money
and power talk, in cyberspace, just as they do in the halls of Congress.
||Dirt in The Domain Name Game
- .ads, etc. Application by Name.Space, Incorporated Moderator, October 7 @ 10:39 PM (65/177)
- Support for Name.Space and IOD S. Hudgens, November 5 @ 11:44 PM (0/0)
- Final Word To ICANN: Name-Space & IOD Eliahu, November 5 @ 8:19 PM (1/1)
- Say YES! to IOD and Name Space first1, November 5 @ 3:43 PM (0/0)
- I support .SHOP for Name.Space netizen1, November 5 @ 5:41 AM (0/0)
- I PROTEST AGAINST THAT FORUM SYSTEM jefsey, November 5 @ 4:01 AM (1/1)
- ICANN Bribery? jtrade, November 5 @ 3:55 AM (0/0)
- Domains already "registered" at Name.Space zgyeo, November 5 @ 2:47 AM (2/4)
- "Dirt in The Domain Name Game" jtrade, November 5 @ 12:11 AM (0/0)
- They are great prissyfit, November 4 @ 1:32 PM (0/0)
- Name Space Inc. Application The Walt Disney Company, November 3 @ 11:29 PM (2/7)
- Top Level Domains seanjason, November 3 @ 8:53 PM (0/0)
- Support for Name.Space and .shop S. Hudgens, November 3 @ 4:33 PM (0/0)
- Support Name Space daimonic, November 3 @ 8:03 AM (0/0)
- Do you know why NAME-SPACE'S .SHOP is best? webcafe, November 3 @ 1:47 AM (0/0)
- Support for Name.Space application URLMerchant, November 3 @ 1:47 AM (1/1)
- Let's hope the ICANN doesn't approve too many of these! ipguy, November 3 @ 12:38 AM (0/0)
- .games tld mevans, November 2 @ 8:19 PM (0/0)
- I DO NOT AGREE NAME.SPACE IS NOT BEST FOR .SHOP Talmage, November 2 @ 3:18 PM (0/0)
- I support Name-Space jtrade, November 1 @ 10:02 PM (2/3)
- Unexplored, Inc. Urges Acceptance of .Shop Registrations by Name-Space Unexplored, November 1 @ 9:43 PM (0/0)
- NAME-SPACE'S .SHOP IS NOT THE BEST .SHOP Talmage, November 1 @ 2:24 PM (1/1)
- Yes to .SHOP by NAME-SPACE ! arts Lee, November 1 @ 6:58 AM (0/0)
- VOTE to .SHOP by NAME-SPACE net, November 1 @ 6:45 AM (0/0)
- New Tld's and ICANN Conflict of Interest? jtrade, November 1 @ 2:20 AM (0/0)
- Yes to .ART by NameSpace cello, October 30 @ 6:45 AM (0/0)
- Yes to Name Space: common sense, democracy, free market Ivo, October 30 @ 1:52 AM (0/0)
- Preregistrations allowed with NSI!!!! C.Bell, October 30 @ 1:46 AM (0/0)
- Hurray for Name Space pdr, October 29 @ 7:52 PM (0/0)
- ICANN say yes to Namespace noisefactor, October 29 @ 3:06 PM (0/0)
- yes to Name.Space fly, October 29 @ 2:35 AM (0/0)
- I support name.space patty, October 28 @ 7:18 PM (0/0)
- NEED FOT MORE AND MORE TLD'S ajay, October 28 @ 8:49 AM (0/0)
- "Beware the ICANN Board Squatters" jtrade, October 27 @ 7:25 PM (0/0)
- Beware of capitalist-speak Melvin Q. Watchpocket, October 27 @ 3:21 AM (0/0)
- fails completely squish, October 26 @ 1:30 PM (2/6)
- TO ICANN board members, staff, and applicants (including NAMESPACE)......WHERE ARE YOU???? Gregory W. Krajewski, October 26 @ 4:22 AM (1/2)
- give pioneers a chance - vote for namespace and IOD - Interview about ICANN - president Ether Dyser ted, October 25 @ 11:21 PM (1/3)
- NameSpace peniel, October 25 @ 10:48 PM (0/0)
- Can I register .web now Anili, October 25 @ 2:15 PM (1/1)
- : ( World Thoughts, October 25 @ 8:26 AM (0/0)
- MSNBC Article about ICANN and .Web jtrade, October 25 @ 3:49 AM (2/4)
- Comments Perios Must be Extended Even Longer! jtrade, October 25 @ 3:29 AM (0/0)
- YES to .magic by Name.Space Igor, October 25 @ 1:00 AM (0/0)
- More Than One ChrisT, October 24 @ 3:22 PM (0/0)
- Vote Yes to Name.Space Joe Trip, October 24 @ 1:29 PM (0/0)
- Where's the Competition? jtrade, October 24 @ 1:38 AM (0/0)
- YES to .lab labdir, October 23 @ 2:38 PM (0/0)
- What needs our future internet - pioneers like namespace or IOD - or monopolies ? whats your mind ? ted, October 23 @ 6:39 AM (0/0)
- Name-space Application for dot shop !! grimnaru, October 23 @ 2:16 AM (4/17)
- Comments about ICANN New TLD process - Is anything being done about it? ALLDNS, October 22 @ 11:08 PM (0/0)
- Pioneer Preference cambler, October 22 @ 8:04 PM (4/22)
- newbie: Please help - domain chanceled Guaranie, October 22 @ 9:58 AM (0/0)
- Moderator - Consider placing General Comments at top of Forum ALLDNS, October 22 @ 3:22 AM (1/2)
- Where is due process and the standards in all of this? ALLDNS, October 22 @ 3:06 AM (1/1)
- Where are the rules? ALLDNS, October 22 @ 2:15 AM (0/0)
- ***GENERAL COMMENTS AT BOTTOM OF FORUM***GENERAL COMMENTS AT BOTTOM OF FORUM*** Facilitator, October 22 @ 1:47 AM (1/1)
- .ads domains kh, October 21 @ 11:22 PM (0/0)
- Namespace Application sjk, October 19 @ 7:07 AM (0/0)
- Proposition to ICANN, Applicants & Internet Community Pistoff, October 18 @ 5:40 PM (1/1)
- Reservations about Name.Space Korskarn, October 15 @ 1:39 PM (1/1)
- Greed by Name.Space hoffy, October 14 @ 11:34 PM (3/6)
- TO THE ICANN BOARD MEMBERS: Dot/IOD Supporters are getting organized...We are building a website!! Gregory W. Krajewski, October 14 @ 6:57 PM (0/0)
- What is the Name.Space intent? marshm, October 14 @ 3:06 AM (1/1)
- Name-Space Application for .Shop and IODesign Application for .Web Attorney, October 14 @ 1:43 AM (5/12)
- Moderator: Please correct error in TLD description. Name.Space, October 14 @ 12:38 AM (2/14)