If you’ve been following the nTLD application process, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the controversies surrounding some of the applications. Since mad dramz are the order of the day, here’s a look at five of the most talked about nTLD controversies of 2012, and what the future looks like for the applicants and nTLDs involved.
Initially the African Union Commission backed UniForum, a South African non-profit company, to be the sole applicant of .AFRICA, but when the DotConnectAfrica Trust had to change their application from .DOTAFRICA, to .AFRICA, so as not to be applying for a similar gTLD to .AFRICA, the two non-profits started a controversy over who should have the registry rights of the nTLD.
Those who back DotConnectAfrica Trust say they don’t want the AUC to have any control in the reservation and registration of .AFRICA – that the nTLD should be free to all. Those who back the AUC, and thereby Uniforum, site that the AUC represents a number of countries in Africa, and is therefore the better choice for a .AFRICA registry because of it’s diverse range of input. Multiple Early Warnings have been issued to DotConnectAfrica Trust, stating that AUC-backed UniForum is the preferred applicant.
There have been controversies surrounding the .ISLAM gTLD that stem both from those who oppose the belief of Islam, and those who feel excluded from the gTLD, based on the applicant. For those who oppose .ISLAM based solely on personal viewpoints of Islam itself, the objection process won’t yield many results – ICANN is interested in making sure all cultures, religions and countries have an equal chance at representative community nTLDs. For those who are opposed to the use of the gTLD by a specific applicant – for instance the Early Warning issued by Muslims in India who oppose Asia Green IT System’s application because they feel left out of a nTLD that defines them personally – the chance of having an objection heeded to is more realistic.
Like .ISLAM, .GAY and .LGBT are facing more personal opinion objections rather than objections relating to the proposed administrative practices. Objections against .GAY and .LGBT center on individual or country objections to homosexuality, and not necessarily to the use of the nTLDs, or the ability of the organizations applying for community administration rights to do their job well. So far, applicants for both domains have not had to change their application to face these types of objections, and have not been issued Early Warnings.
.ADULT, .SEX, .HOT, .PORN
Many have objected to the use of these possible nTLDs because of the industry they’re set to represent – the adult entertainment industry. And while those objecting cite protective reasons – such as protecting children, or combating the negative image some associate with adult entertainment – those in support of the nTLDs have stated that having an identifying marker, like a specific gTLD related to the industry helps separate the adult content from the rest of the Internet, and makes it easily identifiable to parents, or those who may be offended by the content of these sites. So far, aside from public objections, these nTLDs are moving through the application process without serious hindrances.
Australia issued an Early Warning to the applicants of .WTF, citing that the nTLD might foster a negative Internet interaction, and allow a space for people to congregate to proliferate the apathetic or malevolent feelings usually associated with this slang acronym. But, others argue that morality policing cannot occur in the nTLD process, because it opens the door to boxing out any applicant because of the personal opinions of another. For those who agree with .WTF being allowed to proceed though the nTLD process, the importance of maintaining a system that does not judge morality according to cultural specifics is more important than the possible uses of .WTF.
Take a closer look at the Early Warnings, here on ICANN’s website. As the nTLDs make their way through the application process, we’ll be able to see which objections are going to cause a problem, and which are going to be all but ignored. Keep an informed eye on these nTLDs as they make their way through the application process by signing up for our watch list, or for subscribing to our blog.