On the Air with Kojo and ICANN

Josh Bourne ⬥ 15 September

Yesterday I was an in-studio guest for the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5 American University Radio.  Every Tuesday, Kojo covers different tech-related topics, and yesterday’s show focused on new top-level domain names and what they will mean for Internet users.  Tina Dam, ICANN’s Senior Director of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), and Evgeny Morozov, a visiting scholar in the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University and Contributing Editor at Foreign Policy Magazine also appeared on the program with me.

Much of the discussion centered around new IDNs, and the benefits and risks associated with expanding the domain name space to include extensions in non-Latin scripts.  We also talked a good deal about new generic TLDs (gTLDs) and the impact they would have on both businesses and everyday Internet users, including increased opportunities for cybersquatting.  I also broke the news to Kojo that a third party owns KojoNnamdi.com, much to his disappointment.

Overall, I thought it was a good discussion; I did butt heads a few times with Tina Dam, but the conversation was productive.  I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to go on WAMU to discuss some of these issues, although I would have liked to talk a little bit more about ICANN transparency and accountability before time ran out.

One thing that stuck out to me during the interview was a comment that a local listener had sent in over email during the show.  She runs a small business and owns her business name in .COM, but is concerned that with the flood of new gTLDs, she will have to spend a lot of money registering her domain across new extensions.  Tina Dam just brushed off this woman’s concerns, saying she already had her piece of the Internet and really wouldn’t have to worry about new TLDs.  Clearly Dam doesn’t understand the extent of cybersquatting and the importance of defensive registration, especially for smaller businesses that likely do not own trademarks.  But what was more upsetting was that her response is really reflective of ICANN’s attitude toward small businesses – they continue to overlook the interests of the little guy, not only small business owners but Internet users as a whole. 

Tags: cybersquatting, defensive registration, Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy Magazine, gTLDs, ICANN, IDNs, Internet users, Kojo Nnamdi Show, non-Latin script, Program on Liberation Technology, Stanford University, Tina Dam, TLDs, trademarks, WAMU American University Radio

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