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EFF recommends against new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, July 28, 2017, 10:37:03 (UTC), Domain Policy

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has recommended that domain registrants concerned about intellectual property “bullies” steer clear of new gTLDs.

The view is expressed in a new EFF report today that is particularly critical of policies in place at new gTLD portfolio registries Donuts and Radix.

The report (pdf) also expresses strong support for .onion, the pseudo-TLD available only to users of the Tor browser and routing network, which the EFF is a long-term supporter of.

The report makes TLD recommendations for “security against trademark bullies”, “security against identity theft and marketing”, “security against overseas speech regulators” and “security against copyright bullies”.

It notes that no one TLD is “best” on all counts, so presents a table explaining which TLD registries — a broad mix of the most popular gTLD and ccTLD registries — have which relevant policies.

For those afraid of trademark “bullies”, the EFF recommends against 2012-round new gTLDs on the basis that they all have the Uniform Rapid Suspension service. It singles out Donuts for special concern due to its Domain Protected Marks List, which adds an extra layer of protection for trademark owners.

On copyright, the report singles out Donuts and Radix for their respective “trusted notifier” schemes, which give the movie and music industries a hotline to report large-scale piracy web sites.

These are both well-known EFF positions that the organization has expressed in previous publications.

On the other two issues, the report recommends examining ccTLDs for those which don’t have to kowtow to local government speech regulations or publicly accessible Whois policies.

In each of the four areas of concern, the report suggests taking a look at .onion, while acknowledging that the pseudo-gTLD would be a poor choice if you actually want people to be able to easily access your web site.

While the opinions expressed in the report may not be surprising, the research that has gone into comparing the policies of 40-odd TLD registries covering hundreds of TLDs appears on the face of it to be solid and possibly the report’s biggest draw.

You can read it here (pdf).

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Comments (3)

  1. Mason Cole says:

    Donuts appreciates EFF’s continued focus on matters of mutual importance, such as privacy, free speech and prevention of governmental overreach. This most recent paper exemplifies their continued commitment to educating individuals and organizations on the importance of wise choices in Internet identities.

    However, the EFF’s recent paper portrays a number of top-level domains, including those administered by Donuts, in an unnecessarily negative light. Specifically, the protection mechanisms that Donuts employs, and that the EFF cites in this paper as problematic, are well considered, used sparingly, and generally respected by the domain name community. For example, in the lengthy discussion at the fall 2016 ICANN meeting in Hyderabad, India, convened at the request of the EFF, ICANN members generally acknowledged publicly that healthy practices don’t equal “trademark bullying.”

    In addition, we take issue with the characterization of some of Donuts’ practices as problematic. For example, our agreement with the MPAA to address instances of clear and pervasive copyright infringement has resulted in registry-level action on only three names to date (none in the past ten months)—that’s .000001% of the more than 2.3 million names currently under management. These cases all involved clearly criminal behavior, and represent no threat to the well being of thousands of registrants and their names.

    A main objective of EFF is preservation of freedom of expression. Yet this paper presents a false dichotomy: EFF authors presume to urge the reader to eschew certain TLDs so as to not limit freedom. In fact, their exhortation limits the reader’s freedom of expression by proscribing only a narrow set of top-level domains.

    Donuts values the ongoing dialogue it has with the EFF, and we look forward to further discussions. We hope, however, that future dialogue will be even more collaborative and constructive.

  2. nik says:

    get over GTLD issue. It is here to be used in right and meaningful combinations. Not everyone can afford great “.com”.

    it will be pure demand and supply matrix.

    The whole report is conflicting. What is .onion?
    It is also a GTLD.

  3. Joe says:

    ‘Not everyone can afford great “.com”. ‘

    No,no,no…those who are serious about success will find a way to afford a .com and have been doing so for 30 tears. It is the mark of credibility, longevity, trust and success.

    The new gtlds are simply not a viable option.

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