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US upset with ICANN over .xxx

Kevin Murphy, March 20, 2011, 19:23:30 (UTC), Domain Policy

The US government has expressed disappointment with ICANN for approving the .xxx top-level domain, surprising nobody.

Fox News is reporting Lawrence Strickling, assistant secretary at the Department of Commerce and one of ICANN’s keynote speakers at the just-concluded San Francisco meeting:

We are disappointed that ICANN ignored the clear advice of governments worldwide, including the US. This decision goes against the global public interest, and it will open the door to more Internet blocking by governments and undermine the stability and security of the Internet.

As I reported Friday, ICANN used a literal interpretation of its Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice in order to make it appear that it was not disagreeing with it at all.

Essentially, because the GAC didn’t explicitly say “don’t delegate .xxx”, the ICANN board of directors was free to do so without technically being insubordinate.

Whether the GAC knew in advance that this was the board’s game plan is another question entirely.

Strickling is of course duty-bound to complain about .xxx – no government wanted to be seen to associate themselves with pornography – but he’s in a unique position to do something about it.

Strickling heads the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the named “Administrator” of the DNS root and ergo ICANN’s overseer.

It’s within his power to refuse to instruct VeriSign to inject .xxx into the DNS root system, but it’s a power few observers expect him to exercise.

As Milton Mueller of the Internet Governance Project noted yesterday:

If the US goes crazy and interferes with XXX’s entry into the root it will completely kill ICANN and open a Pandora’s box for governmental control of the DNS, a box that will never be closed.

Dire consequences indeed. It’s unlikely that the NTIA would risk killing off the ICANN project after so many years over a bit of T&A.

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Comments (5)

  1. S Van Gelder says:

    The part about the DOC stopping Verisign from putting .XXX into the root seems inaccurate. IANA puts a new TLD into the root, not Verisign. Verisign do run root servers, including root server A, but they are not the only ones to run some.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      My source is the NTIA’s recent NOI.

      http://www.ntia.doc.gov/frnotices/2011/fr_ianafunctionsnoi_02252011.pdf

      “At present, the process flow for root zone
      management (see diagram at http://
      http://www.ntia.doc.gov/DNS/CurrentProcessFlow.pdf)
      involves three roles that are performed by different
      entities through two separate legal agreements with
      NTIA. The process itself includes the following
      steps: (1) TLD operators submit change requests to
      the IANA Functions Operator; (2) the IANA
      Functions Operator processes the request and
      conducts due diligence in verifying the request; (3)
      the IANA Functions Operator sends a
      recommendation regarding the request to the
      Administrator for verification/authorization; (4) the
      Administrator verifies that the IANA Functions
      Operator has followed its agreed upon verification/
      processing policies and procedures; (5) the
      Administrator authorizes the Root Zone Maintainer
      to make the change; (6) the Root Zone Maintainer
      edits and generates the updated root zone file; and
      (7) the Root Zone Maintainer distributes the
      updated root zone file to the thirteen (13) root
      server operators. Currently, ICANN performs the
      role of the IANA Functions Operator, NTIA
      performs the role of Administrator, and VeriSign
      performs the role of Root Zone Maintainer. NTIA’s
      agreements with ICANN (IANA functions contract)
      and VeriSign, Inc. (Cooperative Agreement) provide
      the process through which changes are currently
      made to the authoritative root zone file.”

  2. The timing of this tld being approved is all wrong. The internet is cleaning itself up now and there is a trend towards less adult content. More conservative countries will block the tld altogether, so the .xxx results in google wont even be able to resolve in a lot of places. This tld is unneeded and has no place in the present internet landscape.

  3. [...] his April 20 response, Strickling shared Kroes’ “disappointment” with ICANN’s decision, saying the organization “ignored the clear advice of governments [...]

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