The Foreign Service Journal - September 2014 - page 17

operation of the “root file” of the Inter-
net’s domain-name system, which could
be devolved to regional registries.
It also calls for the Internet Gover-
nance Forum, a “multistakeholder” talk-
ing shop the United Nations convened
in 2006, to be shored up by extending its
five-year mandate, which expires next
year, and guaranteeing “stable and pre-
dictable funding.”
Meanwhile, another hot topic is
ICANN’s ongoing initiative to expand the
current Internet address system, which is
based on 21 generic top-level domains. As
gTLDs will eventually include a potentially
infinite array of websites with subject-
specific suffixes.
That process has been delayed by
various technical and political issues,
however. For instance, does the Internet
domain name for a country belong to its
government—or to anyone else?
Stephen Lawless
that plaintiffs who successfully sued
Iran, Syria and North Korea as spon-
sors of terrorism now want to seize the
three countries’ country code top-level
domains—the two-letter code at the end
of a country-specific Internet address—as
part of financial judgments against them.
(There are more than 280 ccTLDs, all of
which need to have managers, administra-
tive contacts and technical contacts who
live in the countries they represent. The
domains in this case are .ir for Iran and .sy
for Syria, plus Arabic script equivalents for
each, and .kp for North Korea.)
But domains aren’t property and
don’t belong to the countries they point
to, ICANN says in its motion to quash
the court order. Instead, they’re more
like postal codes: “simply the provision
of routing and administrative services
for the domain names registered within
that ccTLD,” which are what let users go
to websites and send email to addresses
under those domains.
Reassigning themwould disrupt every-
one who uses a domain name that ends in
those codes, including individuals, busi-
nesses and charitable organizations—and
that, in turn, “could lead to fragmentation
of the Internet.”
—Steven Alan Honley,
Contributing Editor
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