Saturday, March 15, 2014

US to turn over all influence over ICANN; some concern about popular domain names surfaces

This United States, specifically the Department of Commerce, will relinquish its oversight over ICANN (the international Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) sometime in 2015, as long as ICANN shows the capability to govern itself according to certain vague norms.  That is the subject of a story by Craig Timberg in the Washington Post Saturday March 15, 2014, “U.S. will relinquish last of its control over the Internet”, link here. The New York Times has a similar story Saturday by Edward Wyatt here

There is concern that the ICANN could respond more to demands of foreign governments, which don’t respect individual freedom of expression.  For example, domain names other than those based on personal names or even with “.com” extension, could someday harder or more expensive for individuals without connections to get.  My own “doaskdotell.com” name is reserved until Dec. 2, 2021. 

Some people have been critical about ICANN's permissiveness in allowing very popular names to be sold for high prices.  Some have been critical of the handling of adult domains.  

Some observers mention the NSA spy scandal as a reason for ICANN to want to pull out of a contract with the US. 
The group is largely housed in Southern California and in Australia.
    
In the US, however, the use of domain names has sometimes been challenged by trademark holders of similar wordmarks, even those that existed before the Internet.  US trademark law is supposed to allow the same name to be used by different entities in different kinds of business, but this has not always been respected.


Update: March 18

The Wall Street Journal gives its account, by Gautham Nagesh, "ICANN 101: Who will govern the Internet" and warns that Vladimir Putin will try to the US surrenders it, link here.  The article says that domain names have to be renewed every three years, but mine runs to 2021.  

Silicon Beat weighs in here.

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