why aren’t I in charge?

Sometimes I wonder about people.

For example, there’s this organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN is a corporation in charge of deciding what gets to be a Top Level Domain and isn’t.

Now forgive me if I’m telling you, dear reader, what you already know, but a basic Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) consists of three or more words, separated by periods – a host (usually a server), a domain, and a TLD. www.sdsu.edu, www.example.com, mail.palomar.edu, etc. Back when the Internet was young and more or less exclusive to the US, there were only a few (six, actually) TLD’s:

  • .net
  • .com
  • .gov
  • .edu
  • .mil
  • .org

TLD’s were supervised by a government office called IANA. And in order to buy a domain name, say bobthecowboy.com, you’d have to follow the guidelines for said TLD, commerce sites for .com, non-commercial organizations or individuals for .org, ISP’s for .net, etc. Then it was decided that These lowly 6 TLD’s were not enough (and that there was money to be made here…)! In 1998, this responsibility was handed off to ICANN, who has opened up all of the original 6 to anyone (with the exception of .mil and .gov) and since approved such useful TLD’s as:

  • .pro (for professionals […])
  • .aero (for people and companies dealing with … aviation…)
  • .coop (“cooperative-type organizations or a wholly owned subsidiary” – whatever that means… I guess its for Communes)
  • .info (for “informative websites”)
  • .museum (for, well… yeah.)
  • .biz (for businesses… but mostly just spam and porn sites)
  • .name (for individuals)

Of these TLD’s, anyone can apply for and get a Domain name for .biz, .name, .info, .coop with nothing but a name, a credit card, and some easily faked contact information. This essentially makes them worthless for what they were originally intended for (organizing internet addresses by content or purpose or allowing businesses with similar names to have the same domain name, with a different TLD) but has the happy side effect of costing people more money.

Afterall, (for example) Microsoft is hardly going to let some porn site buy the Microsoft.biz domain name. So there’s some money from every business that doesn’t want its name used in association with porn or something even worse. Imagine if some guy bought Microsoft.biz, and set it up to look just like a real Microsoft website, and took credit card information from people who thought they were buying software.

So now we come to the point. ICANN wants to setup the .xxx TLD. I’m sure I don’t have to explain what this would be for, but needless to say the conservatives (not just republicans!) are up in arms over it. The Bush administration has requested that this be held off and the idea re-examined due to overwhelming concerns that “pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain.” ICANN is a corporation with international members making its decisions, and even though they are non-profit, that doesn’t mean that its board members aren’t salaried. Leasing these TLD’s to other companies to sell makes them plenty of money. Of the newer TLD’s only 3 of them were leased to companies who run any kind of verification to see if you’re running a website with the TLD’s goals in mind. The others (including the older .net, .com, and .org) have lost much of their value.

So on the one hand, the US government is screaming censorship (what exactly constitutes .xxx? Would a nude picture of myself be porn? the sculpture of “David”?) while the ICANN is seeing dollar signs. Meanwhile, very few people seem to be making the real argument, namely “Why the hell would we even have a .xxx TLD to begin with, let alone all these other retarded ones? Porn sites can still register on whichever TLD they want, and legitimate businesses will still have to register with the new TLD just to keep scammers and the like from tricking their users/customers.”

So yeah, sometimes I wonder about people.

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