Netizens Encouraged to Weigh-In on Free Expression Concerns at ICANN

By |August 13th, 2007|

"ICANN announced Friday that a 21-day comment period has opened for the public to submit comments regarding ICANN's proposed policy for approving new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) on the Internet. The Keep The Core Neutral coalition (KTCN) has created a new Action Alert to guide supporters in submitting comments to ICANN. KTCN is concerned with policy recommendations for ICANN to reject domain names that others find to be offensive or immoral. KTCN calls on ICANN to refrain from making general policy decisions and to stick to its technical mission. KTCN launched in June 2007 and now has over 200 organizational and individual members from around the world. All coalition members have signed a petition urging ICANN to refrain from using non-technical criteria for approving applications for new gTLDs and to create a policy driven by the protection freedom of expression and innovation on the Internet..."

Internet Core Neutrality: Drawing a Line in the Sand at ICANN

By |July 24th, 2007|

By Dan Krimm. "Most people have never heard of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, but the number who have may be about to grow significantly. ICANN is a nonprofit organization less than a decade old that makes policy about the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS). This organization determines policy for registries of top-level domains (TLDs) such as '.com' or '.net', for registrars of second-level domains (2LDs) such as '' or '' and for the Root Server Operators whose computers tell the rest of the computers on the Internet what TLDs exist and where to find them. A matter of concern only to techno/Inter-geeks, right? Wrong. While ICANN's original mandate in 1998 was basically limited to making sure the DNS didn't break due to technical and operational flaws, mission-creep at ICANN has expanded its reach well beyond that narrow technical realm and into the world of general public policy. Current policy deliberations at ICANN are increasingly touching upon broad issues like personal privacy, crime-fighting, trademark enforcement, and morality and public order in general. ..."

KEEP THE CORE NEUTRAL: Global Petition Urges ICANN to Protect Free Expression and Innovation in Domain Name Policy

By |June 29th, 2007|

"The "Keep The Core Neutral" campaign officially launched this week with an educational workshop at the 29th meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. ICANN handles technical coordination of the Internet and sets policy surrounding the domain name system (DNS), the Internet’s basic addressing system that allows people to locate web sites and use email. The DNS is informally called the technical “core" of the Internet. The Keep The Core Neutral Coalition launched with over 100 members from around the world, including both individuals and organizations. Coalition members signed a petition urging ICANN to resist efforts to evaluate applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) based on non-technical criteria such as ideas about morality and competing national political objectives. ..."

NCUC Statement on Draft GNSO New GTLD Policy Recommendations

By |June 13th, 2007|

"... Our overall concern remains that despite platitudes to certain, transparent and predictable criteria—the GNSO’s draft recommendations create arbitrary vetoes and excessive challenges to applications. There are some for incumbents; for trademark rights holders; for the easily offended, for repressive governments and worst of all, for “the public”. Among the more troubling proposals is the introduction of criteria in which strings must be ‘morally’ acceptable and not contrary to ‘public order’. A concept borrowed from trademark law without precedent in the regulation of non-commercial speech. NCUC opposes any string criteria related to ‘morality’ or ‘public order’ as beyond ICANN’s technical mandate...."

Legal Briefing Paper from Law Professor Christine Haight Farley on GNSO Recommendations for Domain Name Policy

By |June 6th, 2007|

Before I make observations specific to these recommendations, I would like to offer some general remarks about the overall incongruence between trademarks and domain names. It is important to note at the outset this general lack of equivalence between trademark law and domain name policy. For instance, trademark law the world over is fundamentally based on the concept of territoriality. Thus trademark law seeks to protect regionally and market-based marks without implication for the protection or availability of that mark in another region. In contrast, domain names have global reach, are accessible everywhere and have implications for speech around the world. ...

Legal Briefing Paper from Law Professor Jacqueline Lipton on GNSO Recommendations for Domain Name Policy

By |June 6th, 2007|

"... It is important to start re-focusing the regulation of the Internet domain name system generally on interests outside of pure trademark interests. The introduction of new gTLDs and the development of processes for introducing them may provide a good opportunity for achieving this goal. However, any attempt to regulate broad policy issues relating to social and cultural norms on speech, public order and morality in domain names will be very difficult for any national or international body or group. ICANN also faces the practical difficulty that its major area of expertise is technical and functional. It is therefore important for ICANN to clarify what groups, bodies or individuals it might utilize in carrying out future legal and social developments within development of its domain name processes. In particular, ICANN should consider more specifically who to consult in formalizing specific processes for: (a) the introduction of new gTLD strings; (b) establishing dispute resolution procedures for those strings; and, (c) deciding whether the introduction of particular new strings should be deferred or rejected...."

NCUC Proposes Amendments to Protect Free Expression in Domain Name Policy at ICANN

By |June 2nd, 2007|

ICANN's Non-Commercial User's Constituency (NCUC) introduced 5 proposals to amend the draft GNSO recommendations for a policy to introduce new generic top-level domains (gtlds). NCUC's amendments are intended to provide some recognition of respect for freedom of expression rights in the GNSO recommendations. NCUC proposes that ICANN keep the core neutral of national, regional, moral, and religious policy conflicts. The current draft GNSO recommendations would not permit a controversial or offensive word to be included in a top-level Internet domain name and would expand the rights of trademark owners on the Internet.

Free Expression Threatened by Policy to Ban Controversial Ideas in Domain Names

By |May 30th, 2007|

ICANN’s current proposal for evaluating new top-level domains will result in massive censorship on the Internet, since controversial or offensive ideas will not be allowed in a top-level domain. And the proposal vastly expands the rights of large trademark holders to control the use of language on the Internet, well beyond what US or international trademark law grants to trademark owners. ICANN’s historical practice of deferring to the intellectual property lobby in setting global domain name policy has consistently provided ammunition to those who would question ICANN’s legitimacy and its ability to govern in the global public interest. ICANN will continue to grapple with a perception of illegitimacy, particularly from the developing world, as long as it operates for the benefit of narrow special interests, while disregarding fundamental freedoms in its policy development process. For ICANN to remain the appropriate international forum to be entrusted with managing the Internet’s root server, ICANN must stick to its narrow technical mission and keep the core neutral on national policy issues.

ICANN Board Vote Signals Era of Censorship in Domain Names

By |April 2nd, 2007|

"While Friday's vote was specific to the application for a .XXX domain name space, the Board Members' vote signals their position as to whether they are comfortable with ICANN expanding its mission to become a regulator of online human behavior. By voting to turn down the .XXX application for public policy reasons, the Board indicated it will go beyond its technical mission of DNS coordination and seek to decide what ideas are allowed to be given a voice in the new domain name space. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be impossible for any idea that is politically or culturally controversial to be permitted a new domain name space by ICANN. ICANN is setting itself up as an institution of censorship and subordination to the conflicting goals of governments...."

Milton Mueller & Bruce Tonkin Discuss Censorship and New gTLD Policy

By |April 2nd, 2007|

>>MILTON MUELLER: And I think that's tragic, that you are basically saying -- you are creating a political process of censorship. You're sort of abandoning 300 years of liberal ideology about freedom of expression and saying that we are going to decide what is allowed to be uttered at the top level based on an alleged universality that doesn't exist. And I would just remind you that one of the ways that we ended several centuries of religious warfare was not by deciding which religion was right; it was by the principle of tolerance, which allowed all the religions to exist and separated state power from expression and conscious and belief. And that's, I'd suggest, a direction we have to go. ....