[At-Large] On a "consumer" agenda for ICANN

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri Sep 2 15:05:22 UTC 2016

On 2 September 2016 at 15:36, Carlton Samuels <carlton.samuels at gmail.com>

> They could vote with their feet and coin, by withdrawal from interaction
> and use of the DNS. I should think none of us consider that a viable
> option.

​Actually it absolutely is viable, in a manner consistent with what I have
been saying for many years. And you of all people should know this by now

When someone uses a search engine to look for a destination by name or
caretgory, they are withdrawing from (direct) use of the DNS.​

When someone goes to the Facebook, Google+, Twitter or Linkedin page of a
destination by name, they are withdrawing.

When someone uses URL shorteners, or QR codes, or mobile apps, they are

[ And yes I know that ultimately the above solutions still require some
kind of name resolution. However these approaches don't require human
readable-names or working only at the second level, meaning they could all
be easily serviced within a single TLD and require not a single extra
second-level domain to be bought. ]

Not only is withdrawing from using "memorable domain names" viable, for
many it is preferred. I know that I personally use full domain names almost
never in my day-to-day use of the Web these days. Google facilitated it by
enabling the bar at the top of Chrome
<http://www.chromefans.org/chrome-tutorial/what-is-omnibox.htm> to be used
interchangeably for domain names and search terms; I would argue that the
Omnibox is a significant reason why Chrome is now more popular than all
other browsers combined (62% share as of June 2016).

Search engines can be location aware, they can avoid typo-squatting by
suggesting the right spelling for words, and you don't have to remember the
oddball TLD for a company that couldn't get its desired .com. Search
engines were multi-character-set-aware long before domain names (and
continue to be more diverse in language scripts compared to IDNs). And
since search is Google's main source of revenue, the company is heavily
motivated to make it as attractive as possible to end users. By contrast,
the domain name industry's business model depends not in maximum utility to
end users, but in greatest possible rent-seeking and speculative value
extracted from registrants.

ICANN maintains oblivion from this reality by refusing to measure the
extent of this withdrawal in the context of "Consumer Choice". But
consider: forsaking "valuable" domain names is a choice both for end users
(how they reach Internet-delivered content and services) and registrants
(do they pay the speculator's ransom to get their preferred choice of
domain name, or do they just get a less-intuitive domain name and invest in
SEO or a Facebook landing page?)

This option is HIGHLY viable for end users and service/content providers.
It is not viable for the domain industry since a single TLD could easily
serve it all, and there are no fees going to ICANN, registries or
registrars for growth of names at the third level or deeper.

- Evan
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