[IDN-WG] [ALAC] The Problem of IDNs

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Fri May 9 06:11:56 UTC 2014

On 9 May 2014 00:09, Rinalia Abdul Rahim <rinalia.abdulrahim at gmail.com>wrote:

> The challenge for ICANN is that it doesn't deal with application
> level problems.

Why not?

ICANN's mandate is to promote acceptance of all TLDs. What's the point of
rolling them out if the public can't access them and registrants can't
maximize use of them?

Actually, ICANN has already answered that question through the priorities
embedded in the design of the new-gTLD program. If the primary goal of the
expansion is to sell domains -- whether they are useful or not -- then
support of application-level access is an afterthought. Which is exactly
the case. So far within ICANN, "acceptance" has meant "acquisition" and
little more.

It is IMO *fully* within ICANN's remit to take responsibility for
domain-access issues at every level, including (arguably ESPECIALLY
including) application-level. However, one might not get that impression
given ICANN's moves to reduce the influence of the technical
its activities.

The application-level problems regarding IDNs etc should have been
anticipated and addressed by ICANN long ago. Instead of concentrating all
of its road-show efforts on enticing new TLD applicants, it should have
been also soliciting the global developer community with more than a
marketing campaign<https://community.icann.org/display/TUA/TLD+Universal+Acceptance+Home>(that
just started this year!!). Compare the efforts made to promote IPV6
to all levels (by a different corner of ICANN, with the help of ISOC) to
the effort made to implement cross-level support for all TLDs and all

And now, ICANN is reaping what it has(n't) sown.

The IDN support program should have been done completely independently from
the general TLD expansion, but instead was wrapped into it and has been
unfortunately affected by that action. IDNs from ccTLD registries have now
been adversely impacted because of the way the gTLD expansion unfolded.

> Nevertheless, the successful adoption of IDN TLDs is arguably a success
> measure for ICANN's TLD programme, so ICANN has a stake in seeing IDNs
> succeed.

The goal of the gTLD program has been to maximize sales of domains, which
to some eyes sufficiently constitutes adoption. Whether these domains are
actually usable to end-users or useful to information providers has tended
to be an incidental, almost accidental objective. (Were end-users or
registrants ever surveyed in advance to find whether a TLD expansion was
even necessary, let alone their needs from it?) Anyone following the gTLD
program from the At-Large PoV has surely seen this emphasis throughout the
program's development and rollout.

So "success" depends upon how you measure it. By measures important inside
the ICANN bubble, contracted parties having sold thousands upon thousands
of useless, speculative, defensive and confusing domains constitutes
success. It certainly constitutes revenue.

It is quite possible that the lack of concern for new gTLDs shown by the
application-development community reflects a broader public indifference to
the gTLD expansion that ICANN never really sought to discover (let alone
address). And this indifference has affected the uptake in IDNs. One
wonders what kind of remedial measures can make up for such a large
strategic oversight. It may be up to groups like APTLD to take on the
challenge ICANN has not. Or at very least take the leadership role that has
been lacking to date.

- Evan

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