October 29, 2007

ICANN - New TLD Policy - The Anti-Innovation Act of 2007

I'm sitting in ICANN's new TLD policy session - the restraint of trade is enough to gag a Rockefeller.

ICANN continues to espouse an internet that exists only in its own image.  An internet in which innovation and enterprise are forced to conform to ICANN standards of goodness.

In other words ICANN is attempting to impose onto the internet a set of constraints that would deny to new innovators the creative rights - in Jonathan Zittrain's words, the generative rights - that gave rise to the internet in the first place.

For example, ICANN's outgoing chairman made it quite clear that he believes that top level domain used for political purposes would be highly suspect.

ICANN continues to require that an applicant's finances and business plans must undergo ICANN investigation and approval.

ICANN continues to require that names be sold through ICANN accredited registrars - a requirement that makes utterly no sense except as a protectionist measure to maintain ICANN hegemony and ICANN revenue - not unlike the way that certain states require alcoholic beverages to be sold through state-run stores.  It is a requirement that has absolutely nothing to do with the stability of the internet.

Right now I'm listening to ICANN's policy to replace the legal system with its own policy to decide who on the internet has the superior right to use a name as a TLD.  ICANN is creating law; yet ICANN is not a legislature.

Moreover ICANN's policy creates a veto power for organized interests, particularly trademark interests, to throw so much chaff into the air that no new TLDs will ever survive the gauntlet.

What is particularly galling is that ICANN's new policy is the product of incumbents that have a strong interest in preventing any new TLDs.

Posted by karl at October 29, 2007 3:40 PM