Models for Domain Name Governance

Points of Debate:

  • Should more gTLDs be created? Opening up the numbers of gTLDs may help alleviate the demand for certain domain names. But many points of conflict may not be resolved in this manner anyway, since companies often "clear" trademarked names, buying out the whole set of domain names with their second level address. For instance, Microsoft may want to control not only microsoft.com, but also microsoft.firm, microsoft.org and any other domain names based on "microsoft." Creating new TLDs does not create any new opportunities for other companies, because Microsoft will continue to buy out the whole set of pertinent domain names. Creating new gTLDs may also risk the stability of the domain name system as a whole. Controlling the number and distribution of gTLDs is important because it lends order and reliability to the domain name system.
  • Does the US have the right to special control over the internet, since it is a product of US governmental research? Every country has a potential interest in the domain name debate, based on their concern for the well-being of their citizens, the economic impact which is indirectly influenced by domain names, and their involvement in dispute claims out forth by their citizens. So far the US has had a primary role in controlling the internet, including its continues maintenance of the gTLDs. Is it fair to ask the US to relinquish control of their own project, despite the fact that the internet had become an international tool?
Many alternate solutions to the domain name dispute were initially proposed before the U.S. government agreed on the ICANN model. Some of these were presented in the Forum on Internet Domain Names which was in Washington, D.C. in July of 1997. Three of these solutions are described below:
  1. The IAHC Model: Governance of domain names would fall under an international public trust. This model, called "voluntary multilateralism" stresses the importance of domain name control outside of a particular nation's borders, instead focusing on the international community. Supporters of this model believe that a self-regulatory framework may be best because it will lend the most flexibility and stability to the system, since it must respond to the needs of all international users. One benefit to this system would be the creation of an international forum that could facilitate the designing of dispute resolution policies at the international level.
  2. The National Science Foundation Model: Governance of domain names would be controlled by the United States. This system is recommended by the NSI because it ensures consistency and reliability for all nations. It is argued that this system is fundamentally flawed because it is a monopoly of only one country. Also, some parties feel that a restricted number of TLDs can never provide an adequate number of domain names to fit the global market.
  3. The AlterNIC/ad hoc registry model: Governance of domain names would be decentralized and controlled by the private sector. Private companies would control allocation and distribution of domain names, with little government involvement. Upon implementation of this system, many alternative TLDs would freely become available under the direction of private companies. Like the supporters of the IAHC model, supporters of this approach believe that free market motivation will create the most flexible system, but the AlterNIC approach additionally ensures that a high level of technical efficiency may be maintained. This model has been lauded for its non-governmental approach to DNS regulation, as it alleviates concerns of possible government abuse of civil liberties.