Monday, May 04, 2009

Should the U.S. cut ties with ICANN?


K. C. Jones has a story in “Information Week” about ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”. The story is titled “Eurocrat Wants U.S. Out Of ICANN: EU information society commissioner calls for G12-style Internet governance,” with this direct link.

The statement came from EU Information Society Commissioner Vivian Redding. She maintains that it is inconsistent for a previous U.S. administration, the Clinton administration, to encourage “privatizing” ICANN and then still have the U.S. Department of Commerce as the only major government agency with oversight over the body.

Personally, it resonates for me. My first age paying job was as a GS-4 at the National Bureau of Standards back in 1963, when it was at the campus of what would become the University of the District of Columbia, and NBS, now the National Institute for Standards and Technology, is part of the Commerce Department.

From all appearances, ICANN still works with NIST. In 2008, NIST developed a tool to help ICANN manage the assignment of new TLD’s (top level domain names) for appropriateness and resistance to misuse. The story had been posted May 16, 2008 in "E! Science News", here. One aspect of the whole TLD issue is that “.com” (dot-com) got greatly and misleadingly overused once it was made available to the public in the early 90s. One could have suggested, for example, that non-commercial individuals use something like a “.name”. That may account for some of the controversy over domain names and trademarks (see my trademark blog for examples).

By the way, another wrinkle is that US trademark law is thought to be somewhat less favorable to the rights of a trademark holder in a domain case (even with the prospective dilution provisions) than some of ICANN’s Uniform Dispute Resolution policies might be. Here is the link for that policy.

Picture: At the University of the District of Columbia; the sculpture looks like it came right out of Clive Barker's "Imajica".

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