Q. What Unites Esther Dyson And YMCA? A. Opposition To New gTLDs

Posted in: Domain Names at 07/12/2011 20:53

A representative of the Young Men's Christian Association of the United States of America (YMCA) and Esther Dyson will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation a full committee hearing on ICANN's expansion of top level domains today (Thursday).

Others who will be appearing include ICANN's Kurt Pritz, Fiona Alexander from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Dan Jaffe from the Association of National Advertisers and the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.

While it is predictable that Jaffe will rant against the introduction of new gTLDs, it is to be hoped the committee will ask why the organisation has only belatedly come to the party in opposing new gTLDs.

The proposal for new gTLDs has been around since the mid-2000s and the ANA has even submitted comments on the proposal around 2008. Something Robert Liodice, the organisation's president and CEO, forgot when writing his ill-informed letter to ICANN's CEO and president in August 2011. Embarrassingly for the ANA and Liodice, Beckstrom refuted many of the issues noted in their letter and outlined how comments including the ANA's had been taken into account when formulating new gTLD policy.

Esther Dyson is an oddity. She was ICANN's inaugural chair and has become a vocal opponent of new gTLDs, in an article she wrote for the Project Syndicate in August that new gTLDs do not "actually create any new value."

"The value is in people's heads - in the meanings of the words and the brand associations - not in the expanded namespace. In fact, the new approach carves up the namespace: the value formerly associated with Apple could now be divided into Apple.computers, apple.phone, ipod.apple, and so on."

Dyson believes "this sounds confusing [and] that is because it is."

Possibly, on the face of it, strangest appearance will be from Angela Williams, the General Counsel of the YMCA in the US. Kieren McCarthy on his dotNXT blog has dug a little deeper. McCarthy notes that the reason they are appearing is solely because of the intellectual property lobby.

"The YMCA turned up for the first time at an ICANN meeting at the most recent meeting in Dakar just over a month ago," wrote McCarthy. "Incredibly its representative, Michael Carson, immediately became the person in charge of both communication and membership for the newly formed Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency (NPOC)."

"Michael's sudden elevation is thanks to the NPOC's chair, Debra Hughes. Debra represents the Red Cross but is viewed by some in the ICANN constituency she represents - the non-commercial stakeholders group - as a Trojan Horse for intellectual property interests."


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