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ICANN U-turn over outdated domains

According to Cnews, plans by ICANN to delete some of the more ‘outdated’ domain extensions in their index have been derailed. They had opened a public discussion in San Paulo with a view to removing these extensions, which ended last month. Top of their list of their list for deletion was the Russian .su (Soviet Union) extension and the former Yogoslav Republic’s .yu.

However the public proceedings have been dogged by protests and threats of legal action from domain owners, less than happy at the prospect of loosing their domain, marketing and branding expenses. ICANN finally agreed to leave the extensions alone.

This is not the first time ICANN have deleted an extension, Great Britain’s .gb, was replaced by .uk, East Germany’s .dd and Zaire’s .zr after the country became the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However supporters of the .yu and .su domains have pointed out that these extensions are far from obsolete, they have a healthy number of subscribers. There are currently 7’000 .su domains in circulation, with an additional 250 being sold each month.

The .su domain has remained popular in Russia, despite it’s higher cost, because so many valuable one-word phrases and brands remain available. This news will certainly breath new life into these extensions and their continued growth will make it even harder, if not impossible for ICANN to close them in the future.

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Nick Wilsdon

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6 Responses to ICANN U-turn over outdated domains

  1. […] reported in February, ICANN is continuing attempts to delete the .SU (Soviet Union) domain extension. Pressure has […]

  2. Nick Wilsdon says:

    Thanks for commenting here Kim and your clarification on the matter.

    Decommissioning an extension when so many owners stand to loose their investment in building that branding is problematic. Unlike the .gb extension which has sold a mere handful of domains, the .su extension is still thriving. I can’t see any progress down this route that meet the needs of the local Internet community.

    The .su/.ru situation has risen out of extraordinary circumstances. It seems wrong that domain owners should be penalized for these.

    Not to be controversial but I also find the one code/one country argument a little weak in light of America’s current position. They have assumed a practical hold over .com as well as the country code of .us. Take Google.us for example, which redirects to the .com version of the engine. Until we have a more international treatment of the TLD’s, critising Russia for having two ccTLD seems a little unfair.

  3. Kim Davies says:

    ICANN is not providing recommendations for or against changes. What happens is that when the ISO 3166-1 standard removes a code, the operators are advised that they need to transition to the new code(s) that represent the country. IANA entrusts the operator to do this in a responsible way the meets with the needs of the local Internet community.

    In some circumstances, the operators have either taken a disproportionately long time to decommission the code, or in some cases, actively promote it as available for registration to new registrants.

    The review is to indentify if the current procedure of retirement of country-codes can be improved. It is not to suggest ICANN should start deciding what is or isn’t a valid country code.

  4. David Temple says:

    Kim, If the ISO 3166-a standard determines a valid country code and ICANN does not administer that code then why is ICANN starting a “consultation process” by asking for and reviewing public comments. Is ICANN providing recommendations for or against the changes then? What exactly is ICANN’s role in all of this and who makes the final deterination?

  5. […] The proposal to delete some outdated ccTLDs by ICANN is addressed by an article in the Russian language Cnews and reported in English by Multilingual Search. The article claims the proposal has been derailed. Following discussions in Sao Paulo, Cnews claims “the public proceedings have been dogged by protests and threats of legal action from domain owners, less than happy at the prospect of loosing their domain, marketing and branding expenses. ICANN finally agreed to leave the extensions alone.” See http://www.multilingual-search.com/icann-u-turn-over-outdated-domains/11/02/2007/en/ for the full article or for the original CNews story in Russian, see http://www.cnews.ru/news/top/index.shtml?2007/02/07/234517. […]

  6. Kim Davies says:

    ICANN started a consultation process by asking for public comments on the current policy. It is now reviewing those comments.

    To clarify, ICANN has not made any statements of any kind that it will change policies, including it has not “agreed to leave the extensions alone”.

    The current policy is that ICANN does not decide what constitutes a valid country-code, that is determined by the ISO 3166-1 standard which is not administered by ICANN.

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