02 December, 2010

ICANN & the Exploitation of a Public Resource

A new TLD is launched and before the public can even queue up to register their domain names, a treasure trove of "premium names" is set aside for private exploitation by either the registry or by its registrars.  We've seen this happen before with the .mobi launch where 5108 names were "reserved" by the registry for their own private auction, and we've recently seen the same phenomenon in the .рф launch where ICANN-accredited registrar RU-CENTER registered 24,500 domain names for its own private auction.

This is not how a public resource is supposed to be managed. 

In the first instance, we expect a registry to function as a trustee for the community, and as a designated resource manager this registry "must be equitable to all groups in the domain that request domain names" (RFC1591) - so setting aside a private hoard of premium names for its own exploitation is not what anyone would consider to be an equitable approach -- and yet ICANN has nonetheless approved this abomination.

In the second instance we have ICANN-accredited registrars acting to register premium names for themselves before they process registrations for the balance of the community -- a behavior that should not be tolerated under any circumstances.  ...and yet ICANN has taken no steps to ensure that such practices won't arise in the upcoming new gTLD launches.

In its Affirmation of Commitments, ICANN has agreed to ensure that as it contemplates expanding the top-level domain space, the various issues that are involved will be adequately addressed prior to implementation.  I'm still waiting for this public policy issue to be addressed.

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