Alt root user suing ICANN over dot-Web
ION has wanted the gTLD since 2000
A company called Image Online Design is suing ICANN over rights to the .Web gTLD, to try and prevent the Internet names administrator from giving the domain to anybody else.
According to DomainIncite, the basis of its complaint is that IOD has had an application for the domain rights in front of ICANN since its first “proof of concept” round, when it first began looking at broadening TLD availability in 2000. The company also claims ownership of .Web as a trademark, and offers .Web over alternate DNSs.
However, while ICANN has repeatedly stated that IOD’s application was never rejected, the complaint says the organisation is considering applications from seven companies, including Google and Afilias (which owns .org and .info).
The latter of those TLDs, IOD alleges, have a conflict of interest: luminary, Google Internet evangelist Vint Cerf is a former chair of the ICANN board; while Afilias also has links with the board via current chairman Steve Crocker (whose consulting firm, Shinkuro, is an investor in Afilias) and Bruce Tonkin, vice-chair, whose employer Melbourne IT has contracts with Afilias.
Furthermore, ICANN did not identify IOD as a .Web applicant. The company complains that allowing other applicants while its own application is still current is “improper, unlawful and inequitable”.
The case, filed in the US District Court in California, alleges (among other things) breach of contract, unfair dealing, and trademark infringement.
It’s the second lawsuit brought by an alternative root provider against ICANN in as many weeks, with Name.Space reportedly seeking to prevent ICANN from assigning TLDs that match roots in its alternative system and complaining that “insiders” have conspired against it. ®
Bootnote Thanks to the reader who pointed out that while IOD uses alternate roots to offer .Web domains, it does not operate the roots itself.
Re: DNS is a bad idea.
"It also requires the use of a centralised body"
Ah, no. Actually it probably requires the *absence* of such a body, but ICANN have missed this point.
The old system broke up the top-level space into a handful of historical accidents (.com, .org, etc) and by country code. If you forgive the historical accidents, and accept that sovereign nations each get one top-level domain which they can then screw up as they like, the administration of the top-level in the hierarchy (the only piece that has to be universally agreed upon) is completely trivial and uncontroversial.
And so it was until ICANN changed the rules and opened up the top-level to the highest bidder. This made ICANN a distinctly controversial body performing a non-trivial role for the benefit of the highest bidder.
I for one am happy to see the ICANN monopoly dismantled. It's only a matter if time before China et al start building their own infrastructure (if they havn't already) to support a domestic naming structure, its time for ICANN to develop an environment that adapts to that.
DNS is a bad idea.
Simple problem. The idea of DNS is for names to be human-readable and -learnable. But if they are human-readable and -learnable, they have to be meaningful to humans. Which in turn means that some domain names are going to be more valued than others - to the tune of many millions of dollars. Where money leads, lawyers follow. It also requires the use of a centralised body - ICANN - because if some domains are highly valued by virtue of their meaning than someone has to decide who gets which one.
It's a poor system. But it's the only one we've got, and (As the above concludes) any alternative that uses names meaningful to humans would inevitably end up the same way.
ICANN appears to be doing it's best to live up to the stereotype of the evil, greedy capitalist right now. First by introducing many new TLDs when there was arguably little use for them, and then just selling off new TLDs in quantity when there is no significent benefit to anyone but ICANN's coffers.
Remember that when this fiasco is done, only two things will have been achieved. A new pile of money for ICANN and a few registrars, and people being able to access the Nike website by just typing 'nike' rather than 'nike.com'. Assuming, that is, that their browser doesn't interpret it as a search query and that their network admin has not been using ancient gods as a naming scheme.
In theory it wouldn't be difficult to make a completly new, decentralised DNS replacement based on simple public key crypto - if one were willing to accept the critical difficulty of having the addresses be uuencoded public keys, and thus just meaningless gibberish to humans. That defeats one-half of the function of DNS, and even with the rise of QR codes no sane company director is going to expect that lot to attract any customers.