September 7, 2004

On Tucows "Perfect Information"

I cought Tucows' announcement of their "perfect information" system.  (More information here.)  Elliot and Ross continue to be among the most constructive and creative players in the domain name business.  Ross' note is a most useful exposure of the back-room games, and money flows, that most domain name registrants do not see, even though, in the long run, they do pay for.

What Tucows is doing is a nice patch to a system that has been created out of the reaction to ICANN's excessively intense and excessively detailed regulatory scheme.

Why, for example, has ICANN imposed a registration system on domain names that requires names to be acquired in one year increments up to ten years maximum?  There is no rhyme or reason why a ten year maximum or why it has to be in one year units.  Those were arbitrary impositions - ICANN, acting as the Caesar of Domain Names, simply declared these by fiat.

There is a real need for short-term domain names, for ephemeral things like movies or political events.  Yet ICANN says "one year period, minimum."

And there is a real need for very long term names.  Does anyone think that "ibm.com" is going to be relinquished anytime soon?  There could easily be established a system of very long term name acquisitions, say 100 years or even indefinite, in which the "owners" would be free to retain the name, or to buy and sell, the name through their own channels.  And the registrar/registry system would be relieved of the churn and expense caused by unnecessary expiration billing and processing.

Tucow's "Perfect Information" system appears at first glance to be a worthwhile local improvement.  But it can remain nothing more than a mere local improvement until ICANN stops being an example of worst kind of heavy, excessive, and pointless regulatory body and returns to its original purpose, that of ensuring that the upper layer of the domain name system answers name queries quickly, efficiently, and accurately 24x7x365.

Or, and perhaps easier, ICANN could simply admit that it has no role in technical matters and that is merely a body that shapes and constrains the business of buying and selling domain names and relinquishes its role of ensuring technical stability to new bodies, yet to be formed.

In either case, ICANN should get out of the way.

Posted by karl at September 7, 2004 8:29 AM