back to article The curious tale of ICANN, Verisign, claims of subterfuge, and the $135m .Web dot-word

An ugly struggle over the .Web top-level domain may soon spill into public view again, after one of the companies vying for control of the dot-word demanded an independent review of DNS overlord ICANN's handling of the saga. More than two years ago, the internet infrastructure industry was agape when an unknown company paid $ …

  1. JohnFen Silver badge

    Alternate system

    I'm thinking that the day may come when an alternate system becomes popular. There is literally no technical reason that everyone has to use the DNS operated by ICANN, and alternative systems do exist (although they're not widely known or used).

    This is yet another fault line that the internet can fracture on, and I'm not saying that it's a good thing at all. But as the governance of the established critical infrastructure increasingly looks like it's failing, that may eventually become the lesser of evils.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Alternate system

      I think this is vanishingly unlikely. Who is going to convince multiple big ISPs to switch off the real DNS root to an alternate one at the same time? Along with other big players in DNS resolution where end users might set it directly, such as Google's 8.8.8.8 along with newcomers 1.1.1.1 and 9.9.9.9.

      Because you sure aren't going to get a grass root campaign that causes a majority of individual internet users in the world to switch their resolution. Because you'd 1) have to explain why they should and 2) more importantly you'd have to teach them HOW.

      You have to get a strong majority of worldwide users, otherwise no company would risk not being on the real DNS system and only available on the new alternate.

      Sadly, the best you can hope for is one of these lawsuits succeeds and brings some light into the shady dealings, or some sort of palace coup takes out the current leadership (and doesn't end up replacing them with something that's ultimately worse)

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Alternate system

        > Who is going to convince multiple big ISPs to switch off the real DNS root to an alternate one at the same time?

        When ICANN finally does something really egregious and pisses them off royally, enough to do such a thing.

        It just needs a tipping point, like my friends seem to have reached with facebook, to the point they're abandoning it.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Alternate system

          What could ICANN do that would piss off large ISPs? They are pretty much independent of ICANN.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Alternate system

            What could ICANN do that would piss off large ISPs? They are pretty much independent of ICANN.

            Cost them more. Either via fees, or by introducing/demanding something that causes operational headaches, support issues etc. Case in point being ICANN's support for encrypting DNS requests, which would conflict with lawful intercept/data retention legislation that ISPs may be required to follow. But often it's a case of lesser evils. Flogging new TLDs may have raised eyebrows for being a cash grab, but generally doesn't affect ISPs. Replacing or displacing ICANN (or the IETF) with say, the ITU may be much more painful.. if only in the sense that ITU meetings are even more boring.

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Alternate system

            It's not the large ISPs that matter, it's individual users. If users get frustrated enough, then they'll use an alternate DNS system regardless of what their ISPs do.

      2. gnarlymarley

        Re: Alternate system

        I think this is vanishingly unlikely. Who is going to convince multiple big ISPs to switch off the real DNS root to an alternate one at the same time?

        The problem with the alternative, is that this same problems happens in politics. Not everyone will agree what it should be or who will run it. Everyone has some sort of disagreement when it comes to this kind of stuff. If everyone can agree, then what happens when the alternate one does the same thing, you run away again?

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Alternate system

          "what happens when the alternate one does the same thing, you run away again?"

          Yes, why not? Changing your DNS provider is easy and painless.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Alternate system

        "you sure aren't going to get a grass root campaign that causes a majority of individual internet users in the world to switch their resolution."

        In the scenario I was thinking, there would be no need for such a grass roots campaign. It would happen like similar shifts have happened in the past -- gradually at first, adding a small number of users over time, until it hits a critical mass and lots of people start using an alternate. No campaign of any sort is needed.

        Also, I don't think it would be people jumping en mass to a single other DNS service. It's more likely, I think, that we'd see many competitive DNS services, each with their own userbase.

        I agree, this looks unlikely -- I'm just speculating -- but as of right now, I don't see a path that leads to the current DNS system getting fixed. I don't think lawsuits will do that. But, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that I'm wrong.

    2. Carpet Deal 'em

      Re: Alternate system

      The existence of alternate DNS roots just creates its own set of problems. This is, in my opinion, one of those rare cases where a blockchain just might make sense: nobody has to trust anybody but can still find everybody. This also has some more obvious problems, but decentralization in some form is going to be the only way to put an end to this.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Alternate system

        "The existence of alternate DNS roots just creates its own set of problems"

        Yes, it absolutely does. But so does the current system. So the question becomes -- which approach presents problems that are easier for the end user to handle?

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Alternate system

          Yes, it absolutely does. But so does the current system.

          What problems does the current system create that average users of the internet give a damn about? They don't care if new TLDs cost a lot, or there is corruption in ICANN. It doesn't affect the typical internet user! Hell I'm glad new TLDs are mostly a failure, it was a stupid idea from day one and if they were in wide use the internet would be in a bigger mess.

          The average person is exposed to a lot of corruption in their day to day lives, from government, from corporations, etc. On the list of corrupt organizations measured by how much it personally affects them, ICANN would be somewhere in the thousands.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Alternate system

            "What problems does the current system create that average users of the internet give a damn about?"

            None, but I wasn't really talking about average users. I was talking about balkanization of the internet, where different groups of users are using different systems. Average users may well never use anything else, but they'd just be one of the different groups.

            "Hell I'm glad new TLDs are mostly a failure, it was a stupid idea from day one and if they were in wide use the internet would be in a bigger mess."

            I agree entirely. It's one of the reasons why I never use those TLDs to go anywhere.

    3. rskurat

      Re: Alternate system

      The governance doesn't appear to be failing the governors.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Follow the money?

    So who benefits from all the cash ICAN has? Pay isn't all that high compared to other companies and basically no bonuses nor are there stockholders looking for dividends. So where will the money go?

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Follow the money?

      So where will the money go?

      I think ICANN needs some private jets to fly its board members around in.

      Oh, and each director will need their own chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Maybach to get to and from the airports where those private planes are, and to and from home, and, well, available to them 24x7x365 for whatever other purpose they need them for. And they'll need sets of these cars at all the major cities around the world where they hold ICANN meetings/conferences. Hmm, and maybe some helicopters too, for shorter jaunts from airports to the ICANN-owned ski chalets errm conference facilities in Switzerland.

    2. A.P. Veening

      Re: Follow the money?

      "So where will the money go?"

      As it looks now, it will go to pay some huge GDPR fines.

    3. Dvon of Edzore

      Re: Follow the money?

      If the money isn't being spent, it's sitting in somebody's bank.

      A bank could get mighty grateful for such an asset.

      Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say-no-more.

  3. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Where are ICANN based?

    Could it be the US?

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Where are ICANN based?

      Well that's kind of the sad reason for this. The ROW rightly decided the US had too much control and ICANN should have greater independence from the USA. Unfortunately, while they gained some independence from US oversight, this happened without getting any new international oversight!

  4. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    Too many and inconsistent

    TLD: Each ISO country, region and trading block, plus one for international (to replace com, gov, info, net, org etc, maybe www) and one for intergovernmental organisations, including the UN.

    Then between the rented or purchased domain and TLD, have:

    org, gov, edu, co (also com as alias), info (also inf is alias), news, well (alias health and Care)

    The edu and news regulated by the country's regulators for Education and Media.

    Also the equivalent of all those intermediate qualification of TLD in all languages would be free aliases.

    You should be able to rent or buy the 3rd level of the domain. There should be a special arbitration for reuse of expired domains or desirable ones.

    Country domains only available if you have an address in the country.

    If commercial seller and using the International domain, you must supply world wide.

    *

    Perhaps stupid and impractical. However the present system was bad and is now worse with proliferation of TLDs which is just ICANN and Registrar greed.

    ICANN and stuff like IP allocation needs to be under ITU, though it needs reforms, at least it's not controlled by one country and totally bonkers as well as greedy.

    Also no organisation other than an ISP / Mobile provider should have more than 10,000 IPs. The situation with many US companies and Universities and some Governments is crazy greed. Hundreds of Millions of IPs or more, unfairly allocated.

    Mines the one with rule books in the pockets.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ICANN do what I want and ICANN get away with it !!!

    Seems to be par for the course for ICANN, where they interpret the law however they like.

    Best of luck to Afilias but I doubt they will get anything as this has been 'stitched up' between ICANN and Nu Dot Co. [read Verisign]

  6. katrinab Silver badge

    Is anyone actually using these new tlds?

    Except for spammers and virus writers obviously

    I’ve seen a few legitimate domains in .scot, .wales and .london, but most of them, I’ve blocked.

  7. KA0293

    .web has been active for decades - but not under ICANN

    I still have an active, paid contract for cavebear.web with the original .web (by IOD) here in California. It has been active for roughly as long as ICANN has been in existence.

    Yeah, it hasn't been in the NTIA/ICANN/Verisign root system, but ICANN is not some sort of god that has a right, legal or otherwise, to supplant uses that occurs outside of its purview or without its approval.

    That suggests, perhaps, that use of the term and domain name ".web" by any other provider here in the State of California could be a form of unfair business practice and thus prohibited.

    Would anyone want to pay $$ for a top level domain over which there would be a cloud over its use in the State of California?

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