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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

.XXX TLD divides Internet community

THE 28th public session of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in the Portuguese city of Lisbon, may have ended, but it ripples have left the global Internet community divided, especially on the rejection of the .XXX sponsored Top Level Domain (TLD) application.

.XXX, according to free and open source software (FOSS)-based encyclopaedia, Wikipidia Online, is a proposed TLD intended as a voluntary option for sexually explicit sites on the Internet. The name is inspired by the former “X” rating, commonly now associated with pornographic movies as “XXX.

It would be recalled that this was the third time this TLD has been sponsored by ICM Registry and it received ovally rejection for the trice.

But following the most recent rejection of the TLD by the global Internet co-ordinator, ICANN at the Lisbon meeting which ended Friday, March 30, 2007, Internet community has been left at cross roads.

Notable among the issues on .XXX was series of online attacks on directors of ICANN, mostly on those who voted against the idea by the proponents of .XXX, of which one of the directors Ms Susan Crawford came under severe assault.

Although, votes on .XXX penultimate March 30, saw ICANN board voting 9 against 5 to obstruct the introduction of the new .XXX domain name space for non-technical reasons.

Justifying her reasons, however, for supporting the obstruction of the TLD, Ms Crawford said in her blog that though she did not regret her vote, but lamented the module ICANN was introducing in the Internet polity.

She pointed out that there are two issues to be considered critically here, which include the allegation that ICANN only creates problems for itself when it acts in an ad hoc fashion in response to politically motivated pressures.

Second, she said, is that ICANN should take itself seriously as a private governance institution with a limited mandate and should resist efforts by governments to veto what it does.

Some of the stakeholders who reacted to her blog comment, including Wendy Seltzer, a California based lawyer and Vittoria Bertola, a cyber lawyer, lambasted ICANN for not following due process.

For Bertola, ICANN is yet to follow due process either in accepting or rejecting the TLD applications, describing the action as “quite a bad process” beginning with the inability to decipher the concept of ‘sponsorship’, pointing out that there was however, discussion on whether the criteria were met
Bertola also noted that there was no discussion on whether ‘adult entertainment’ as X rating is often called is good or bad and whether it should be censored.

Also reacting to Susan’s blog, Wendy Seltzer, wondered if the latest rejection would hold, that is if ICM would not litigate the option.

Seltzer equally said the rejection was weak and unprincipled, stressing, the path the board took was troublesome.

“As a board, we cannot speak as elected representatives of the global Internet community because we have not allowed elections for board members,” Seltzer said, adding that .XXX application does not present any difficulty, technically and even if it does, “we do not, as a group, claim to have special technical expertise.”

According to him, although he did not support the idea of .XXX, he was convinced that ICANN should not be in the business of judging ‘good ideas’ or making content-based judgements about new TLDs.“ICM jumped through the procedural hoops ICANN set, it would not cause technical problems in the root, and so should be entitled to its domain,” Seltzer said.

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