Tuesday, 21 October 2003

Will ICANN give ".travel" to IATA?

Less than a week before the start of the annual meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)Board of Directors, the agendas for the public forum and the actual Board meeting have still not been posted on the meeting Web site. That makes it real easy for people interested in particular issues -- which, as of now, might or might not be open for discussion -- to jet off to Carthage, Tunisia, on a day or two's notice once the agenda is announced.

So we still don't know whether ICANN will take up the question of new top-level domains (TLD's), including the proposal from the airline cartel IATA to "sponsor" a *.travel* domain. And I won't be there -- I certainly can't afford to go to Tunisia on speculation.

But we've seen this before: schemes to move forward (or backward, depending on your opinion of ICANN's plans) on new TLD's have been added to the agenda of the last two ICANN meetings within days of the meeting or after the meeting had begun. And, more importantly, as I said in my comments to the June 2003 ICANN meeting (by e-mail), the fix is still in to give IATA or a front for IATA's interests de facto control over a new ".travel" domain. Indeed, ICANN still appears to be pulling out all the stops to find a way to keep the secret back-room promise made to IATA years ago by previous ICANN staff and Board members.

As I say in the section of my Web site on Internet domain names for travel :

Why should anyone care that the Internet is being hijacked by commercial interests? The issue is, in part, whether the Internet will be governed democratically or ruled by money and back-room cronyism. It's also about whether we should have top-level domains (like .com or .edu) for sectors of activity -- open to everyone with a stake in those activities -- or solely for industries and commercial interests. Will the Internet travel namespace be a virtual community of travelers, or a domain where -- as in a speech I heard a while back by the president of Expedia.com -- interactivity and participation will be limited to the opportunity to click on the "buy" button?

Watching from afar, I don't know exactly what form the skullduggery will take. But one way or another, I suspect that will be the question once again in Carthage next week. Keep a close eye on the smoke-filled rooms!

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 21 October 2003, 05:06 ( 5:06 AM)
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