Internet corporation foiled in plot to take down Internet

ICANN accidentally spills names of applicants for new top-level domains in the latest faceplant for bumbling Internet gang

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Say you decide to visit the happiest place on earth. Do you go to Disney.com, Disney.info, Disney.biz, Disney.us, Disney.amusementpark, Disney.Mickeymouse, or Disney.Disney?

Let's say Wal-Mart wins the rights to the .store domain or McDonald's snags .burgers. I can't imagine Target or Burger King being very keen about that.

Or say you own a technology consulting firm and hanker for a .tech domain to enhance your street cred. No problem -- you'll just have to pay whatever usurious rates the registrar that has exclusive rights to the .tech domain wants to charge.

My prediction: It's going to be a wet hot mess. And aside from country- and language-specific domains, most users will simply default to .com, like we already do and hope that the site we landed on is the one we were looking for.

This is hardly the first time ICANN has stuck its foot in it. For years, it dithered over whether to allow an .xxx domain for adult sites. That decision (or lack thereof) went on so long, in fact, that the adult industry became one of the most vocal opponents to .xxx, having invested millions of dollars building up its .com and .net franchises.

As The Register's Kieren McCarthy points out, ICANN's domain name dispute process has become synonymous with the phrase "deeply flawed," in part because it heavily favors the side with the deepest pockets. The information in the Whois database is often completely fictional, and ICANN's pathetic attempts to police that are a joke.

Then there are the ethics problems. The other major beneficiaries of the new domain boom are registrars, as noted above. And who makes up most of ICANN's governing board? Yes, that's right -- representatives from major domain registrars. As the Church Lady from "SNL" might once have said, "How convenient."

The fact that ICANN has shot itself and its well-heeled customers in the feet -- yet again -- comes as no surprise. The worst is surely still to come.

Have you experienced your own true-life drama at the hands of ICANN? Post your tales of woe below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Internet corporation foiled in plot to take down Internet," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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