December 19, 2004

Response to Ross Rader on "Om misses the boat"

Ross Rader in his blog wrote an item "Om misses the boat"

I agree with much of it - it is true that ICANN is responding to some proposals for top level domains, that is, if "some" is measured as 9 out of about 55 applications - about 16%.

I disagree when Ross says "Sometimes these proposals are solid enough to get ICANN's blessing."

Why should ICANN care about the business solidity of a proposal?  Why should ICANN care whether a TLD offering will survive as a business or fail and its assets fall into receivership?

It is improper for ICANN to impose business qualifications on those who wish to try their hand at running a domain name business.  For ICANN to make such conditions is to restrain trade.

ICANN can not articulate any rational technical basis for those business conditions it imposes.  That is because there is none.

In other words, ICANN is engaged in nothing more than naked and unjustified economic, business, and social engineering.

Is this legal?  I am not enough of an expert to know whether it is legal or not within the US.  If it is then US law is flawed.  As for the question of legality in other countries, that is a question for those in those other countries to ask.

ICANN's restraint of trade has resulted in a moribund and effectively closed marketplace of DNS registry/Top-Level-Domain providers.  As in the case of all such monopolies the result has been a a failure of innovation of products and a system that protects inflated prices.  In both cases the community of internet users are the losers.

ICANN should ask at most two questions of those who wish to run new TLDs:

1. Will the applicant adhere to internet standards?

2. Will the applicant refrain from using its position to mount an attack on the infrastructure or users of the net?

Perhaps ICANN could insist that an applicant obtain a letter from an independent business auditor indicating that the applicant has appropriate and adequate business asset protection practices so that should the applicant's business fail there will be enough pieces left around for the customers or a receiver to resurrect the operation and keep the portfolio of names in play.

Posted by karl at December 19, 2004 10:12 PM