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Cyber-Rights Groups Call for Hearings on Internet Domain Name Decisions

A group of Cyber Rights advocates including the ACLU, CPSR, EPIC, ACM and several distinguished law professors sent a letter to Secretary Norman Mineta of the United States Department of Commerce expressing concern over the lack of process and public oversight in the publication of Top Level Domains (TLDs) on the Internet.


Free Speech Alert:
Please circulate!

01.18.2001


Cyber-Rights Groups Call for Hearings
on Internet Domain Name Decisions

A group of Cyber Rights advocates including the ACLU, CPSR, EPIC, ACM and several distinguished law professors sent a letter to Secretary Norman Mineta of the United States Department of Commerce expressing concern over the lack of process and public oversight in the publication of Top Level Domains (TLDs) on the Internet.

http://www.internetdemocracyproject.org/DoClt1.htm

The letter stated that artificial limitations placed on the number of generic top-level domain names, such as ".com," and ".org," present a serious threat to freedom of expression.



It went on to say that the closed process on publishing internet Top Level Domains (i.e. ".com" v. ".sucks) imposed by both the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Commerce Department violates the Due Process clause of the Constitution and the Federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA).



"Top-level domain names make content visible on the Net and are the road signs for navigating cyberspace, By severely limiting the domain space, ICANN and the Commerce Department have failed to recognize the needs and free speech rights of individual Internet users and non-commercial organizations".



The letter specifically cited ICANN's rejection of the ".union" proposal based on unfounded speculation that the international labor organizations that proposed this new top level domain name were somehow undemocratic. The procedures being used gave the proponents no opportunity to reply to this unfounded accusation.



ICANN also rejected ".iii" because it was concerned that the name was difficult to pronounce, even though the ability to pronounce a proposed domain name had never before been mentioned as a decision criterion.

The time to act on this is now before all constitutional protections of individuals' rights to publish on the internet is lost to private corporate interests, replacing constitutional protection with commercial contracts that favor trademark rights over individual rights and free speech.



Does ICANN's Choice of 7 TLDs Speak for YOU?

Many have criticized ICANN's choice of only 7 new TLDs as "restricting" the namespace instead of "extending" it; others have panned the choices as outright BORING and for entrenching the dominant corporate players without creating new opportunities for small business and non-profits. It has been said that TLDs are the "people talking". If new TLDs are the "people's voice", is ICANN for SPEAKING FOR YOU or CENSORING YOU?



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