ICANN study on non-delegated TLDs: A gesture of cooperation or an act of war?
Day: Wednesday May 29, 2013

ICANN has announced a study on the issue of “non-delegated TLDs” which is their term to describe the work of alternative roots and rootless TLDs (http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-28may13-en.htm).  While there is wisdom in making the study and documenting the findings, ICANN’s history and several hundred million dollars of financial interest, suggests the possibility that wisdom will take a backseat to agenda.

First look at their history.  In 2006 a report was issued titled “Alternative TLD Name Systems and Roots: Conflict, Control and Consequences (SAC009)” that contained high sounding arguments and strong emotional tugs.  The report emphasized possible abuses by political or ideological parties, but gave no hint that mitigations were possible.  It worked on the assumption that alternatives would use the exact same implementation as ICANN rather than making improvements on the technology that mitigates the issues.

The new study commissioned will look at “potential security impacts” of non-ICANN TLDs.  By framing the study as “how to mitigate the various risks” we are starting with the assumption that a war is in progress.

If ICANN were indeed working in the public interest, its study would focus on questions to seek real understanding.  Why is there a growing market for the alternatives?  What can be done cooperatively to mitigate TLD collision?  What is ICANN doing that is fostering the alternative market?

Many alterative TLDs offer features that ICANN prohibits or makes impractical, such as free domain names, or names that are offensive to some parties.

ShofarDomain’s rootless system is not simply trying to be an alternative, but offer options that ICANN does not allow.  For example our resolver is being designed to allow the end user’s DNS traffic to be unmonitorable, a feature that has a growing market interest.

Many ISPs hijack otherwise none defined domains to point to their servers.  ShofarDomain allows non-delegated SLDs to be responded by the TLD in the way it sees fit.  We are also building the ability to for an end user to choose a third party, for business, moral or religious reasons, to that could provide redirects for selected domains.

The rootless design opens the door for TLDs to offer a vastly different set of terms and features.  We suggest that ICANN embrace the concept.  ICANN TLDs can continue under their terms and others can be as innovative as they desire.

ICANN sanctions “.com” with its 9 digit count of domains as well as “.museum” with its 2 or 3.  It is not a size issue.  ShofarDomain should be able to offer “.TeaParty” and “.Occupy”, irrespective of the volume, with the same accessibility.

Unless there is an issue of desiring absolute control, then a rootless design should be a welcome option.  Or did we just hit a nerve?

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