ICANN has been chastised for prohibiting terrorists from applying for new top-level domains. Really.
Abdulaziz Al-Zoman of SaudiNIC has written to the organization to worry about the fact that “terrorism” has been added to the list of forbidden activities for new TLD applicants.
The word made its first appearance in version four of the Draft Applicant Guidebook, and was harshly criticized during the ICANN board’s public forum in Brussels last month.
Al-Zoman is primarily concerned that there is no definition of “terrorism” in the DAG.
While the international community is extensibly [sic] divided on who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter, and notwithstanding ICANN’s lack of definition whatsoever in the DAG 4 on terrorism, it is a surprise to me to see ICANN involving itself in the area of terrorism while its mandate is only being a global technical coordinator.
He has a point, of course.
Hamas is the probably the best example today: an elected government with a paramilitary wing, classified as a terrorist organization by the US and UK, among others.
In the old days, we could have used the IRA as an example: a bunch of extremists blowing up English pubs, backed by American money.
During the public comment forum in Brussels, ICANN’s Kurt Pritz gave every indication that the word “terrorism” will be yanked or defined in the next DAG. From the transcript:
I agree with you that certain terms, and especially that one that is so sensitive, either requires — it should be removed or it should be — you know, it should have additional definition.
He was responding to a somewhat hyperbolic statement from Khaled Fattal, CEO of the Multilingual Internet Names Consortium, which is worth quoting (again from the transcript).
For ICANN to invoke the term “terrorism” in this arbitrary manner threatens ICANN’s ability to effectively undertake its mandate of being the global technical coordinator of the Internet. It would also challenge its legitimacy as a global public service provider in the eyes of the international community if it continues on this path, but most importantly, alienate many of the international community.
Moreover, it raises many concerns as to whether ICANN is succeeding at truly internationalizing itself.
Furthermore, the arbitrary inclusion of terrorism as a measuring stick without any internationally recognized law or standard is wrong and if acted upon it can be understood or seen by Muslims and Arabs as racist and profiling.
Now, ICANN’s painted itself into a bit of a corner. To placate its critics, it can either adopt a definition of terrorism, or it can drop the word entirely.
The former idea is probably unworkable – Wikipedia’s attempt to define “terrorism” under international law is over 4,500 words – and the latter could lead to interesting headlines.
ICANN GIVES THUMBS UP TO TERROR DOMAINS
I think I’ll leave that one for Fox.