[NA-Discuss] Regarding the .health applications

Garth Bruen gbruen at knujon.com
Mon Mar 11 15:17:26 UTC 2013


You've made an important point which I raised within the Review Group. The objection frames the "community" squarely under healthcare professionals and not so much under "health." As we know there is a "healthcare" string in application which has no objection. I walk by several "Health Clubs" in my neighborhood as well as a tea shop that has a sign encouraging me to drink green tea for my "health."

I reiterate my concern that this is an objection over the string specific and not the meaning.


-----Original Message-----
From: na-discuss-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org [mailto:na-discuss-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org] On Behalf Of Evan Leibovitch
Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2013 7:57 AM
To: NARALO Discussion List
Subject: [NA-Discuss] Regarding the .health applications

Hello fellow NARALOers,

I have given a great deal of thought about this issue. Having been a former chair of the ALAC gTLD working group and still an active member of that group, I have a deep interest in this area.

If only there was as much debate about other ICANN  policies. This one attracts so much attention because of the money potentially involved. But I personally don't think it's that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.
These applications and subsequent objections are but a blip in a gTLD expansion that, on the whole, is harmful to the public interest IMO.

As a result, I find myself as one of the few who have no strong feelings about this particular vote.  binary choice of supporting the objections or not, to me, is a choice between lesser evils. And I have promised not to abstain. So for the sake of transparency I will outline the thought process behind my thinking, indicate my current leaning, and invite any discussion intended to either confirm my judgement or change my mind.

The actions of the WHO and other IGOs, elsewhere in ICANN policy making activities, clearly demonstrate that they really do not care about the public interest in domain name matters. So I have zero trust in the position of the WHO or its surrogates, especially since they have refused to put forward an application of their own, outlining positively in this round what their vision of the  .health TLD should be.

Then there are the applicants. While I reject their for-profit status used as a reason for objection, let’s not have any misconceptions that they have any interest at heart besides their own. They will have no hesitation to sell sub-domains to quacks and snake oil sellers, to the vaccinations-are-evil crowd, or to approaches to "health" that  could very well be lethal. At least one sees use beyond medicine, believing that the TLD will be really appealing to those wanting to promote financial, automotive, or all kinds of other forms of "health".

While some applications refer to public interest in either original or subsequent submissions, they cannot be trusted either without concrete enforcement regimes with explicit penalties. Given ICANN's existing compliance track record I take as a given that any  "commitments" currently on offer will be broken with few negative consequences.

So I have no delusions that any of the applications will be forces for public good. But then, I would doubt that even in an application from the WHO unless it was heavily policed.

What remains, then, is whether the current set of applications, if successful, will cause harm. Will an un-curated  .health threaten either the community of people interested in health (that is, everybody) or the miniscule subset of that community which submitted the original objection.
Specifically, will it compound the harm already inflicted by the rest of the TLD expansion, or for that matter by the current pre-expansion state of the domain name system?

It is here, for the most critical question, that so little real evidence exists to back up the claim. There is, for instance, no public damage done by having a superficial fitness magazine run health.com. The existence of a new cohort of new, untrustworthy names neither improves nor impedes access to quality health information that already exists. This is, after all about the phone books and not the phones.

So, in conclusion, I am impressed with neither the applications nor the quality of the objections. But, on the balance, given the lack of logic or evidence to prove harm to the entire health interested community (which includes myself) my inclination is to vote against the objections.

I am willing and ready to change my PoV and eager to hear why. So far what I have seen has been unconvincing.

- Evan
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