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[comments-gtlds] Support for Position Paper B of WG-C

I have carefully read the seven papers released from WG-C and discussed
them with colleagues. I also worked on the following comment, which has
been officially adopted by the Board of Computer Professionals for Social
Responsibility. I urge DNSO to adopt Position Paper B.



Expansion of global Top-Level Domains

Comments of CPSR to the Domain Name Supporting Organization

Adopted 16 December 1999 by the CPSR Board 

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility issues this comment in
support of Position Paper B of the Interim Report on the creation of new
global top-level domains (gTLDs), issued by Working Group C of ICANN's
Domain Name SupportingOrganization. We find that Position Paper B offers
the best route to achieving competition in the registration of domain
names, and furthermore that it is the paper demonstrating most strongly the
spirit of experimentation and open standards that has characterized the
Internet since its beginning. 

The growth of the Internet, and its contribution to massive changes in
modern life, spring from a willingness on all sides to tolerate multiple
standards. For instance, there is no central committee that determines who
has the right to develop new protocols; Tim Berners-Lee was not appointed
by any regulatory body with a prior mandate to develop HTTP. If such a body
existed, it could well have refused to develop HTTP on the grounds that
there was no need for further competition in file transfer protocols.
Instead, the openness of the Internet permitted HTTP to be developed and to
spontaneously find grassroots support; most significant in the context of
the gTLD debate, the invention of the URL created a new namespace in which
HTTP, FTP, and other protocols could flourish without collision. 

This history provides valuable lessons for the development of new gTLDs.
Both Position Paper A and Position Paper B acknowledge that different gTLDs
may be useful for different types of service; rather than promoting
uniformity over all TLDs they celebrate diversity. But Position Paper B
acknowledges the spirit of experimentation and diversity in a more
thoroughgoing way than Position Paper A. Position Paper B calls for an
unrestricted roll-out of names and suggests that "end users and suppliers,
interacting in a marketplace, determine the market structure of registries,
registrars, and names," while "ICANN in turn coordinates their activities"
to ensure smoothly-functioning interaction among TLDs. 

The entire question of competition among registries or among registrars for
a single TLD, which would require a costly and heavy-handed bureacracy, is
avoided by Position Paper B through the simple strategy of allowing anyone
to create a TLD with any desired competitive policy. Consumer choice moves
to level of competing TLDs, with some TLDs also permitting competition
internally as their creators determine. Just as the URL created a namespace
hospitable to many different protocols, Position Paper B creates a
namespace hospitable to future developments that we cannot anticipate or
regulate for now. We believe the opening of the TLD space can be started
right away, without waiting for other technical or policy changes to fall
into place. 

In short, the DNSO has a historic opportunity to change the TLD namespace
from its current status as a contraint on the development of the Internet,
not to mention a battleground for wasteful disputes, into a force for
innovation consistent with the rest of Internet standards. For this reason,
CPSR calls for the implementation of Position Paper B. 

Andy Oram  O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.        email: andyo@oreilly.com
  Editor   90 Sherman Street                     phone: (617) 499-7479
           Cambridge, MA 02140-3233                fax: (617) 661-1116
           USA                          http://www.oreilly.com/~andyo/
Stories at Web site:  The Bug in the Seven Modules,  Code the Obscure