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ICANN slammed by governments for shambolic policies

Governmental Advisory Committee issues report labelling procedures ‘complex, lengthy, ambiguous’

The document openly condemned ICANN’s policies on two-letter second-level domains.
The document openly condemned ICANN’s policies on two-letter second-level domains.

US-based Web domain administrator, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has come under fire from governments around the world over the organisation's level of bureaucracy, The Register reported.

The stinging indictment was issued in a report from ICANN's own Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). The document decried "complex, lengthy and ambiguous" processes and openly condemned ICANN's policies on two-letter second-level domains, which are commonly reserved for country codes such as ".ae", ".de" and ".uk".

More than 500 new top-level domains are being added to the Internet and another 500 are to follow. According to The Register, an increasing number of Web registrars have called for the abolition of restrictions on two-letter domains, so that organisation would be able to , for example, register "ae.horse" or "uk.music".

But while the GAC report called for relaxation of some policies, some governments raised concerns over the policing of certain domains, where trust was implied by the name, to prevent disreputable organisations presenting themselves as trustworthy. The report listed 100 such domains, including ".dentist", ".kids", ".hospital", ".bank" and ".mortgage".

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ICANN, however, has repeatedly left the policing of TLDs to registrars, encouraging the introduction of "public interest commitments" (PICS) to the application process.

Despite the GAC's concerns, however, ICANN has repeatedly refused to introduce verification requirements for the top-level domains. Instead it has introduced a self-regulation approach, where registry operators can add "public interest commitments" (PICS) to their applications that outline what they will do to limit or prevent abuse. Naturally, the GAC isn't happy.

"The GAC believes that its advised affirmative requirement for verification of credentials at the time of registration goes much further to meeting the goal of mitigating consumer harm and fraud than an after-the-fact complaint system," the group said in its report.

The GAC also highlighted the Public Interest Commitments Dispute Resolution Procedure (PICDRP) that ICANN uses to discipline organisations as vague and ineffective.

"At present, the GAC considers the PICDRP to be complex, lengthy, and ambiguous, raising questions as to its effectiveness in addressing serious threats," the group wrote.