Friday, June 27, 2008

ICANN loses marbles

ICANN, the body set up by the US government to oversee the Internet, has gone mad. They've spotted another chance to "Make Money Fast!"as the phrase goes, and are jumping in with both feet.

We're used to top level domain names like ".com" and ".net", and the two-letter country ones like ".uk" and ".ca" for the UK and Canada, or ".cn" and ".ru" for China and Russia. These are based on an international standard list of country codes.

Now they have decided to allow anyone to pick their own top level name. Well, anyone with a "six figure sum" to spare. The result will be confusion, and perhaps a little chaos. You won't know whether hello.html is a file on your own machine, or a new-style website belonging to... anyone.

They are also rushing to develop plans to allow internationalised (as in non-latin alphabet) names. So if a spammer can't get bank.com, they can register a domain name with a russian S (which looks like a C... but isn't one) instead of a "normal C". It will look the same to casual victims, but will belong to the hackers instead.

Maybe they'll come up with a way to stop that. Maybe it won't depend on corrupt or lazy domain name resellers for its success. Or maybe hackers will all repent. We'll find out next year, when the details arrive.

Hmmmm.

At least they are restricting spammers' ability to register all their millions of variations on "get.viagra-now.com" for free. Perhaps if they concentrated on issues like that, instead of new ways to squeeze money from the rest of the world, we'd be better off.

Got to go. I need to think of a way to make 6 figures out of my new top level domain ".is-a-moron". Can I charge people what I like to register names with me?

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