Feds demand veto power over new domain names

The Obama administration is demanding the authority – along with other governments – to veto future top-level Internet domain suffixes.

As CNET’s Declan McCullagh notes, the controversial move raises serious questions about digital free expression and cyber sovereignty.

To be sure, it remains unclear exactly who will exercise authority over a new generation of 115 suffixes, such as .car, .health, .nyc, .movie and .web.

Of course, certain domain names are likely to raise more objections than others, including .gay and .xxx. 

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Commerce Department remains tight-lipped over its support for both gay and .xxx, saying only that “it is premature for us to comment on those domain names.”

Meanwhile, Syracuse University professor Milton Mueller warned that the Obama administration’s proposal will likely create an “explicit governmental veto” over new top-level domains by altering current approval procedures to include a mandatory “review” by a multi-nation ICANN advisory panel.

As expected, the process is somewhat open-ended, because all governments reserve the right to “raise an objection to a proposed (suffix) for any reason.” 

And, unless at least one other nation disagrees, the proposed new domain name “shall” be rejected.

“It’s the U.S. government that’s proposing this procedure, and they’ve shown absolutely no interest in standing up for free expression rights through this entire process,” said Mueller.

(Via CNET)