Thursday, 8 January 2009
ICANN prepares to renew the ".aero" top-level domain
Almost nobody actually uses it, but since 2001 there has been a ".aero" top-level Internet domain name delegated by ICANN to SITA (a cooperative of airlines and other aviation companies) for the exclusive use of "supporters" of the aviation industry.
The original idea, not necessarily a bad one, was to have predictable second- and third-level domain names like sfo.arrival.aero (or should it be "arrival.sfo.aero"?) for flight arrival information at SFO (San Francisco International Airport), or www.af.aero for the Air France (AF) Web site. Some of these work, but not usually with any degree of predictability, and almost always as aliases or redirects to ".com" or country-code top-level domains.
The original 5-year agreement for ".aero" was negotiated in secret and cut out travellers, NGO's, consumer advocates, and other critics of the industry, to all of which I objected unsuccessfully. My request for reconsideration of that decision was also denied (after being considered in secret). And neither SITA nor ICANN complied with the agreement, or with ICANN's Bylaws, as I pointed out when the ".aero" agreement was due to expire after the first 5 years.
After the contract between SITA and ICANN expired, it was secretly and improperly "extended" (by whom or on what authority remains secret), in several stages, for a total of another 3 years.
Now ICANN has finally made public the result of yet another round of improper secret negotiations: a proposal for a 10-year "renewal" of the delegation of authority over ".aero" to a different corporate affiliate of SITA (incorporated under different rules in a different country), with a presumption for further renewal in perpetuity (basically unless SITA gets convicted of serious crimes).
Meanwhile, rather than deal with any of the real problems with its "accountability and review" (not) mechanisms, ICANN's Board of Directors is proposing to abolish the separate Reconsideration Commitee -- which has never had a single public meeting -- and assign its responsibilities to an existing committee of the Board. As I have pointed out in the public forum on this proposal, this will do nothing about the real problems.
[Update, 11 February 2009: ICANN posted a report today that both the abolition of the Reconsideration Committee and the new 10-year sponsorship agreement and delegation of authority over ".aero" to SITA were approved at an ICANN Board of Directors telephone "meeting" (closed to the public and the press, as usual, in violation of ICANN's transparency bylaw) on 3 February 2009.]Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 8 January 2009, 12:45 (12:45 PM) | TrackBack (0)