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ICANN puts blockchain on the agenda for good

Kevin Murphy, June 23, 2022, 15:57:44 (UTC), Domain Tech

ICANN’s board of directors is apparently worried about the rise of blockchain-based alt-roots.

Its Board Technical Committee voted in May to make blockchain a permanent agenda item going forward, according to just-published minutes.

“After discussion, the Committee decided to have a standing topic on the agenda to address Blockchain Names,” the minutes read.

The minutes don’t record the content of the discussion, but the alt-root topic has been addressed at every one of the committee’s meetings since last July and resulted in the CTO’s office putting together a briefing paper I blogged about last month.

Blockchain alt-roots include the likes of ENS, Handshake and Unstoppable. They are likely to present legal challenges and interoperability problems when ICANN finally opens up the next round of new gTLDs in a couple years.

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Comments (8)

  1. tom barrett says:

    This is a positive step, in my opinion.

    Blockchain domains are not going away.

    ICANN is unlikely to regulate them. But collisions are inevitable. However, the scope of NCAP doesn’t cover them (yet).


    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      The problem is not blockchain, the problem is alt roots that happen to be distributed via blockchain.

      If what you say holds up, that those alt roots are not going away, that would be most unfortunate since this is pure and simple fragmentation. And that decreases the value of the net for all its global users, not only for those holding identifiers (either ICANN root or alt-roots)

      • Users who care about blockchain domains will figure out how to use them. Otherwise, most people will ignore them.

        Fragmentation exists in every market and the businesses that survive are those that adapt. Another word for “fragmentation” is “competition.”

        Should blockchain domains prove to offer more incentive to users than ICANN domains, that’s a problem for ICANN, not global users.

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          Competition is not fragmentation. Fragmentation would be McDonald’s and Burger King requiring cars of different sizes to buy at their drive-thru operations, so you would need to choose your car based on your favorite fast-food chain. Competition is all fast-food chains allowing all car drivers to buy food.

          There are no blockchain domains, there are alt roots (a very old phenomena in the system) trying a different clothing to appeal to users that don’t realize how fragmentation should govern their decision-making process.

  2. Jared Arms says:

    What security measures will Unstoppable Domains, provide for criminals using their Blockchain Domains to create decentralize sites containing Child Abuse & Animal Torture?

    • StoppableDomains are for wallet addresses, they don’t resolve to websites. However, your point is valid for blockchain naming systems that do resolve to websites, like Handshake…but it’s also a tired (but still valid) argument. Criminals are going to use whatever is available to peddle their disgusting wares.

      To answer your question, there aren’t inherent security measures to block content in any protocol so you do what is already done now; report to whomever is managing a website/server/TLD and escalate to appropriate authorities.

  3. tom barrett says:

    Just had to fix Rubens typo…

    “decreases the value of ICANN-based domains for all its global users…”

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Not a typo at all, Tom. It’s a shot in the foot for all Internet applications when fragmentation occurs, regardless of which flavor of identifiers one is most invested in. Metcalfe’s law work both ways, and the only way to make each one to grow in value is to reduce fragmentation.

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