back to article Governments mull net censorship grab

Governments working within ICANN are pondering asking for a right of veto on new internet top-level domains, a move that would almost certainly spell doom for politically or sexually controversial TLDs. In a number of meetings of ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee here in Brussels this week, civil servants from several …


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  1. Dazed and Confused


    The idea that all current TLDs are acceptable to everyone is not likely to be true.

    .com companies or commercial. There is a whole tranche of political opinion that is isn't acceptable.

    .gov I'm sure the anarchists of the world would love to see this one go.

    There is presumably a TLD for Israel while there exist a number of nation states that would like to see that one expunged not just from the internet but also from the planet.

    I don't think you'd find many issues where everyone in the world agrees.

    1. Kradorex Xeron

      Re: Acceptability?

      I agree, in addition, non-US governments may find the US-centric ".gov", ".edu" and ".mil" offensive and may start demanding these registries open up to their usages to international usage. I wonder what ICANN and US Government reaction of this will be.

      This is a dangerous line ICANN walks.

  2. My Alter Ego

    Let them.

    "a nation like Uganda, again for example, could decide to block the entire TLD for not complying with its rather outdated notions of personal morality."

    If the countries are allowed to do a blanket ban, they will no doubt use a simple regular expression filter on the hostname, something that is easily circumvented. The sooner the censoring starts, the sooner the populace can start working on ways of getting around the issue.

    Let's be honest, the people who like to tell people what to believe aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer.

  3. Annihilator
    Thumb Down


    I'd find it odd if we lived in a world where we had to group gay people into one corner of the internet. As a heterosexual man, can I request the .notgay TLD please - in the interest of fairness that is...

  4. John G Imrie


    Does this mean that my campaign to have a .gobblersknob TLD in honour of Groundhog day will be blocked. Oh well I'm of to instead.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge


    pretty much says it all ... if we're going to worry about this sort of stupidity heaven help us when someone hijacks other existing TLDs.

    .com in my pants - a clothing retailer?

    .org asm - assembly coding instructions?

    .mil lady - high class hookers ?

    Anarchy - it's looking better every day.

  6. Eddie Johnson

    This I Like for All the Wrong Reasons

    I'm no fan of censorship but I'm in favor of this just because it will prevent a proliferation of new TLDs. Domain names are a hierarchical organization. The more random TLDs are added, the less organized the whole system becomes. And when companies are essentially forced to buy up their name and all their product names to prevent squatters its just a cash cow for the registrars.

  7. janimal
    Big Brother

    Don't call me shirley

    Surely it would be easier for these repressive governments to block all sites from a particular TLD than have to inspect every potentially offensive site to see if it should be censored?

    Am I missing something?

  8. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Of Course...

    ...if you run your own nameserver, you can have any TLD you want.

    Convincing people to switch to your DNS would be a bit difficult, of course.

  9. Ray Simard
    Thumb Down

    This way lies madness

    The DNS does not need, nor even benefit from, a TLD for every niche, interest and societal sector. Technically, the system would work fine with no TLDs at all. They were conceived to help organize the DNS around the purpose and function of the domains under them, but aside from .GOV and .EDU, for which you still have to provably qualify (and setting aside the country-code domains for the moment), the rest have been stripped of their meaning entirely.

    Remember when .com, .net and .org meant something? To get a domain you had to include a short written justification (and $100 USD) wth the application, and that had to match up with the TLD you requested. Strictly, you got .NET if you were a part of the Internet itself, .ORG if you were a non-profit or .COM otherwise (granted, the was a lot of play in the system, but that was the goal). If .com, .org and .net were merged into a single TLD there would be no harm in that at all; they mean nothing any more. Even USENET's top-level groups are more meaningful.

    TLDs are not directories; they are not browseable; being part of .autopartsdealers* isn't going to get anyone to your store's site any faster than if it's fact, less so. I see no reason to waste time and trouble over this; it's headed in the wrong direction. These new "niche" TLDs will soon be full of inappropriate domains just as .COM .NET and .ORG are now, if we imagine for a moment that those old standards still existed. It's just complicating the DNS and creating illusory significance to the domains under them.

    (I was going to say .hamster-duct-tape, but that would be lost on most people.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Governed by the clueless

    Bunch of spineless conformists asking to reconsider doing anything possibly uncomforming because the puritans might not like it and get upset and then we have upset puritans, OH NOES!

    This is exactly why we should have less government meddling. Break up ICANN. Have the community decide. If governments want to fight it, they'll lose. Might as well admit that now.

    There's the fragmentation angle, yes, but I don't really care. As long as the US is sitting on the keys (and they do, whether anybody wants to admit it or not), we run the risk of worse, more insidious fragmentation for different reasons. I don't really see a need for lots and lots of new TLDs, mind, but since we want generics to go along with the ccTLDs, there's no defensible reason not to. In fact, especially .edu, .gov, and .mil aren't really defendible and haven't been for some time. They should go (move them under .us and done), or go open, and while at it, we might as well admit we need a way to retract TLDs that have turned out to be not such a great idea. *Then* it makes sense to open the floodgates, not before.

    But since ICANN really doesn't make much sense in any case, nor can it be fixed, who cares.

  11. heyrick Silver badge

    Just a thought...

    So rather than having nations-with-issues block content they don't like, ICANN wants to consider this like a precrime and block it on behalf of a nation that might not like it. WTF? This seems to me, to be about as useful to society as those certain people (who were not Islamic) wanting to ban Christmas celebrations lest it "offend" somebody who isn't a Christian. ICANN really ought to keep their noses out of politics lest it start to piss people off (upon which basis would a domain name be rejected? don't you think if you place a Jewish elder, a fundamentalist Muslim, a monk, a capitalist banker, an imporverised Mexican, and an athiest in the same room to vote on this you would ever EVER *E*V*E*R* have agreement? you can't please everybody). This isn't to mention that there may be sites that would appear to fail the basic moral test, such as the heavy-duty how-to-kill-yourself-in-a-blaze-of-glory that is actually, as bad as that might sound, it does end up somewhere logical. Try it. I know that's not a TLD, but what's to say www.sui.cide ? How about words that are rude in one place but not so rude elsewhere, or non-English words that are obvious but not exactly an obscenity - ? Or given we can have non-Latin, how about жизнь.дерьмо ?

    Do they even understand the sheer scale of the minefield they're freefalling into? It would be better to keep control of TLDs for administrative purposes, lest they spiral out of control, and 'censor' TLDs by the long long boring approval/consultation process. But NOT because something somewhere *may* upset somebody. For if they do, they really ought to rename themselves ICANT...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "...For if they do, they really ought to rename themselves ICANT..."

      Sound like a job for OFCOM.

  12. Rattus Rattus

    I'm not sure what to think

    On the one hand, I understand how it could cause such Balkinisation. On the other, I'm completely in favour of offending wowsers. Hmm...

  13. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    Sounds like a plot from Dilbert - you can't start a project unless North Korea, Isreal, Iraq and human resources all agree on it - great work avoidance policy

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Thoughtful title needed

    1. I agree that we don't need niche TLDs. Though I suppose if we have lots and lots it will have essentially got rid of the TLD concept. I'm not sure if this is technically a good thing or not.

    2. DNS domains are pointers not content. Introducing .xxx doesn't create more porn content.

    3. "a nation like Uganda, again for example, could decide to block the entire TLD for not complying with its rather outdated notions of personal morality."

    Well there's a statement of breath-taking arrogance. Who exactly decides what is "outdated" and what is not? Surely if the beliefs are currently held, they are "current" and not outdated at all. Certainly they may not coincide with our own but to dismiss them by implying they are a bit primitive is just crass. I suspect you'd find that there are plenty of Islamists who think the Western experiment with freedom of speech is an idea whose time is over. Does that mean we should abandon freedom of speech?

    If you're going to have a clash of cultures. Let's not make it about imposing my will or belief system (whatever it is) on them. We need to be better than them, not just different. Tolerance is about agreeing to disagree, not forcing others to accept your viewpoint. I forget who said that (if you use coercion), "you become like that which you fight."


    Globalization and the Law

    You can't globalize regulation,and particularly you can't globalize telecoms regulation.

    At least; not without pandering to the lowest common denominator of censorship, fascism, and social control.

    Its a measure of intellectual strength that we tolerate freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and open and free exchange of ideas.

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