An effort to dramatically expand the number of Internet suffixes beyond those already in use—such as .com, .net, and .org—met with bipartisan resistance on Wednesday in a House Judiciary subcommittee.
During a hearing before Judiciary’s Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (better known as ICANN) said its proposal would pave the way for hundreds or even thousands of additional suffixes, resulting in more choices and innovation.
But critics suggest that ICANN, a non-profit based in California, would reap a financial windfall at the expense of companies and non-profits that would be forced to “defensively” register their websites with the new suffixes to protect their trademarks.
“I would ask that we balance the costs and benefits of this proposal before a final decision is made to go forward,” said Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who joined members from both parties in urging ICANN to delay final implementation until concerns about trademark infringement, identity theft, and increased business sector costs can be adequately resolved. While he doesn’t oppose a limited expansion of Internet suffixes, the specifics of ICANN’s approach are troubling to him, he said. With Goodlatte and other hearing participants projecting that ICANN could earn tens of millions of dollars in additional fees, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., asked: “Where will all this new money end up?” Kurt Pritz, senior VP of stakeholder relations at ICANN, said strong safeguards would be in place to protect trademarks, including the ability of parties to object to the adoption of new suffixes. He said ICANN would constantly evolve its plan in an effort to respond to concerns that might arise. But Goodlatte challenged him on those points, noting that ICANN has not taken any preemptive steps to ensure that “legitimate businesses” and non-profits such as the Red Cross and the U.S. Olympic Committee would not be victimized as a result of the changes.
Trademark holders are worried about a flood of knock-off sites designed to confuse consumers. For example, Coca Cola could have headaches if someone were to register “Coca-Cola,” with the suffix .soda, to create a new address, www.Coca-Cola.soda, not affiliated with the company.
Echoing Goodlatte’s concerns was ranking member John Conyers, D-Mich., who said: “I’m worried that the benefits will not outweigh the concerns raised by stakeholders." Conyers recommended a follow-up hearing on the matter and called for ICANN’s proposal to be “held up.”
“This has such enormity—the scale of it, the magnitude of the change, the implications for the public, that it behooves everybody to take the time necessary to make sure that we do our best to get it right,” agreed Mei-Lan Stark, senior VP for Fox Entertainment Group, who testified on behalf of the International Trademark Association.
Oh, and you know what? It's gonna seem that way in ten years too. Network Solutions once had (uh huh) a working alternative root server and the "right" people knew about it; it was their other option besides signing with ICANN - which they were under no legal, moral or ethical obligation to do. The VP of ops there at the time told me "you have no understanding of the power of the trademark lobby" and "if we told people about that root server the government told us they'd have the Army take us over as a point of national security. So, if the TM boys can influence even the military how hard do you think it really is to get a loaded congressional committee to say what they want you to hear? The CEO of NSI at the time told me last year "The NRA, big tobacco and labor unions are amateurs in DC compared to the TM people who move in the shadows and leave no fingerprints".
I've been bleating this for over a decade. Now do you believe me?
There are a very large number of significant DNS servers that will all do X or Y if it makes sense, the problem is Vixie and his utter and unshakable belief in "a catholic DNS that originates at IANA".
Now, having allocated the last block of v4 space, IANA's job is effectively over. It's done. It can go anywhere and is back to being a part time job just like the early days when Jon made it up.
What's going to happen next is the governments two green field projects (the emergency responder network and the national broadband network) have already had solicitations go out and have now 7 providers of database services to for those networks (MS, Google, the usual group of suspects) and when the USG winds down the failure that is ICANN it'll finesse "the IANA task" into one of those and eventually Microsoft will get a vote to tell Pal Vixie what to do, which is something he's been frightened of since 1985.
IMHO DHT DNS is the way to go and just walk away from this fucking mess. It's too much work to save it and would be easier to start from scratch. Given Bernsteins breakthroughs in elliptical curve cryptography some CurveCP connected DHT DNS sevrers would deliver all the promises the I* boys have made over the years but never delivered on.
You win Paul, port 53 is yours, we'll just call is UUCP2 to be clear it's not "DNS" but gethostbyname now takes an argument. Or something.
But there's a reason I don't spend any time on this ICANN nonsense, it's not going anywhere, never was going to, never will. That's by both design and implementation.