Europe annexes Caribbean islands

Caymans in the wrong location for ICANN

So what?

Despite the fact that a concerted refusal on behalf on hundreds of countries to join ICANN's representative body points to pretty extensive dissatisfaction, there is the small matter of the real world.

According to the most recent figures, 40 per cent of all domain names in existence - ie. 40 per cent of the Internet - are country-code domains. Some 26m of them. Germany is the second largest registry in existence following .com, with 8.6m .de domains. The UK, after .net, comes fourth with just over 4m .uk domains.

With the gradual introduction of internationalised domain names (IDNs), which allow for different languages in Internet domains, non-Western alphabet domains have taken off and will continue to do so at ever greater rates. Japan, China and Korea are ahead of the game but the Middle East will soon catch up. The rest of the world will define the next stage of the Internet after its roots in the US. And yet the organisation within ICANN to deal with this vital sector boasts only 17 per cent of the total possible membership and just 15 per cent of the number of domains.

The other five-sixths simply refuse to join until ICANN provides a process in keeping with their wider importance on the Internet. And that it why the ccNSO still doesn't have a fourth legitimate European member, 16 months after the Cayman Islands made their historic journey across the Atlantic.

Since the ccNSO's first official meeting on 20 July 2004, only three new ccTLDs have joined, two in Africa and one in Asia-Pacific.

So what changes do the others want?

Well, the changes that others are insisting upon before they join up to the ccNSO are very clear and simple if you approach it from the perspective that the ccTLD countries should have the right to determine their own approaches to how they run their own domains.

Unfortunately, this is the cause of the ongoing tension between the rest of the world and ICANN, where ICANN believes it should act and decide in everyone's best interests.

Centr, which is the largest representative body for ccTLDs, last month laid out what its members wanted. The ccNSO should be "a forum for information exchange and discussion of best practices, not for developing policies binding on participants", it argued.

It wants the bylaws rewritten so that:

  • ICANN does not have the power to set policies that affect ccTLDs without it going through ccNSO
  • Members can decide procedures, fees and policies themselves
  • ccNSO policies do not bind non-ccNSO members
  • ccNSO policies should only be rejected by ICANN Board in very exceptional circumstances
  • Policies can only decided of a quorum of 50 per cent of ccNSO members
  • The ICANN Board cannot change ccNSO policy without explicit permission of two-thirds of ccNSO members

The situation has reached deadlock. ICANN is left with a stranded support organisation that moves territories across the globe to legitimise itself, and the rest of the world is left without an overseer to thrash out the inevitable arguments that will come in the future.

The Internet remains a peculiar place. ®

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