With ICANN, the Internet’s domain name managing body, set to meet soon to review applications for new top-level domains, the Obama administration is lobbying the group to grant it and other government’s the power to veto any approval of new TLDs like .nyc, .coke, and yes, .gay. Think back seven years ago when ICANN approved .xxx to shuttle porn websites into their own online ghetto, but then the Bush administration got pissy. So while the U.S. Commerce Department says for now “it is premature for us to comment on those domain names,” it’s certainly clear the White House wants an ultimate say in the matter. But what about other state governments, like Iran and Myanmar and Uganda, who don’t think so kindly of the gays? Would they be able to block American-led initiatives to bring online the .gay extension?
According to the latest version of ICANN’s proposed procedure, anyone may file objections to a proposed domain suffix on grounds that it may violate “norms of morality and public order,” although there’s no guarantee that a suffix would be rejected as a result. Two ICANN spokesmen did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“NTIA will continue to provide advice on how ICANN can promote competition in the domain name marketplace while ensuring Internet security and stability,” NTIA said in a statement. “NTIA continues to support a multi-stakeholder approach to the coordination of the domain name system to ensure the long-term viability of the Internet as a force for innovation and economic growth.”
The U.S. proposal will be incorporated into what’s being called a “scorecard” that governments are drafting to summarize their concerns with the current process of approving new domain suffixes. The scorecard is expected to be published in two weeks.
Then, at the end of this month, ICANN will hold a two-day meeting in Brussels with representatives of national governments to try to reach a compromise on how to share authority over new domain suffixes. (The language of the official announcement says the purpose is to “arrive at an agreed upon resolution of those differences.”) ICANN’s next public meeting begins March 13 in San Francisco.
And nobody would be hard pressed to come up with a whole slew of participating countries who wouldn’t want domain names to be able to end in .gay, let alone .christ, .jew, and .nazi.