New TLDs, acceptable or not to everyone?


Last week was an ICANN meeting in Brussels. I did not go this time either. But people still send questions to me on various subjects. One of the more popular ones the last couple of days is whether the string that is to be allocated as a potential new TLD must be acceptable to everyone, or whether one can accept a TLD be filtered out on some parts of the Internet just because of its name?

My answer is that the TLDs we have today are acceptable, and they must stay acceptable to everyone. Both today, and tomorrow. Both the TLDs we have, and the TLDs we might create.

Main reason for me has to do with control, persistence and navigation. Lets take them in reverse order:

Navigation is to find ones way. Navigate on the Internet is what we do when we click on links, search in search services, and save data in bookmark lists. Domain names is a very important concept in the navigation we do. Links all over the place do contain domain names.

Persistence has to do with the ability to navigate tomorrow using the same tools as we use today. The ability to click on the same link, reuse a bookmark, and get to the same resource, service or whatever.

Control has to do with who decides on how persistent a certain navigational tool is. And it must be the owner of the resource, that decides on the link the first day (that include a domain name) that always, and forever, decide on the persistence.

This implies the manager of a URL must be able to control whether a certain URL should continue to live. Continue to live implies that the tail of the URL stays the same between change of CMS. Continue to live also implies that the domain name must reference a service that can deliver the resource. Because of this, the holder of a domain name must always be the party that decides on how usable a URL is. Over time. Forever.

This implies a registry is secondary when it comes to the management of TLDs. What is much more important is that the database (mapping domain name holder to a domain name) is working regardless of what happens with management of the TLD. So the contingency plans that are included in I think most TLD arrangements are things I am strongly in favour of.

But, back to the accessibility to a TLD. A domain name holder must trust the domain name system to have TLDs that are reachable all over the net. That a TLD might only be usable here and there is not acceptable. Specifically of course if it to start with is, but then get filtered out. Or disappear because the registry disappear.

And no, I do not believe a registry will be able to announce in a transparent enough manner where they are filtered out and blocked for various reasons. I think this is where global accessibility is the only thing that makes sense.