While it’s true that ICANN has excised specific references to terrorism from its new top-level domain Applicant Guidebook, don’t expect any such groups to be awarded TLDs.
But it does contain text that makes it abundantly clear that any group or nation the US considers a supporter of terrorism will have an extremely hard time finding approval.
Under a new section entitled “Legal Compliance”, ICANN notes that it “must comply with all U.S. Laws, rules, and regulations” including the sanctions program overseen by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.
OFAC administers a List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. If you’re on the SDN list, American companies cannot do business with you without a license.
While ICANN has applied for exemption licenses in the past, in order to be able to deal with organizations in US-unfriendly nations (on ccTLD matters, presumably), the AGB now states:
ICANN generally will not seek a license to provide goods or services to an individual or entity on the SDN List. In the past, when ICANN has been requested to provide services to individuals or entities that are not SDNs, but are residents of sanctioned countries, ICANN has sought and been granted licenses as required. In any given case, however, OFAC could decide not to issue a requested license.
If you’ve never seen this list before, it can be downloaded here. It’s currently 475 pages long, and while it’s certainly a globally inclusive document, parts of it do read like the Baghdad phone book.
(Interestingly, many of the listed a.k.a’s are actually domain names)
Anybody who wanted ICANN to replace the amorphous term “terrorism” with something a little more specific have had their wishes granted.
No more hypothetical debate is required about whether Hamas, for example, is a terrorist group or a movement of freedom fighters. It’s in the book, so it’s probably not getting a TLD.