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ICANN Yokohama Meeting Topic - Introduction of New Top-Level Domains: Expression of Interest #10

Posted: 9 July 2000

June 9, 2000

Re: Expressions of interest from parties seeking to operate and/or sponsor any new TLD registry.

I am writing on behalf of a group on NGOs that have expressed an interest in the development of a new Internet top level domain (TLD) for human rights. Specifically, we are seeking to create .humanrights, as a TLD that would be used both for domains for human rights organizations, but more importantly, for a system of gateways or portals to information about human rights for specific firms, governments, organization or even issues.

For example, this TLD could be used to create such domains as:

PWA.humanrights (people living with AIDS)

(This list is only for illustration purposes, of the types of domains that might be used, not the actual domains or even taxonomy that would necessarily be used.)

A consortium of human rights organizations that will manage the TLD, and set policy regarding how the domain will be used. The use of the TLD will be restricted by the consortium. For example, the consortium would determine who is a bona fide human rights organization, or which links would be appropriate from a gateway or portal site. The value to the Internet community and the users of the domains would be that the TLD would be a positive signal from the consortium regarding the quality of the links (as the .edu or .gov TLDs are now). The use of the TLD would provide also an important way for researchers, journalists, activists or consumers of e-commerce services, to quickly check on the human rights record of the firm or organization. Firms or organizations with well known brands and names would be find it more compelling to respect basic human rights if a failure to do so were readily available to the public.

The consortium will be considering various ways to make the system as fair as possible. For example, some have proposed that for cases where a firm or organization name is used in a gateway domain, would be to provide the firm to opportunity for a rebuttal, on the gateway or portal itself -- if there were links from nike.humanrights to reports about Nike's use of sweatshops to produce its shoes, Nike would be able to provide a link to its response, or a corporation criticized for its use of child labor could have a link giving its response.

The actual details of the management system for the .humanrights TLD are still being worked out, and will require additional discussion among global human rights organizations, plus additional outreach to identify groups that are interested in taking an active role in the management of the TLD.

In setting the rules for new TLDs, the ICANN board should recognize the benefits of expanding the name space to include TLDs that address the concerns of civil society. The ICANN board should also avoid rules that would unduly restrict the ability of the .humanrights group to manage its TLD as its sees fit, including, for example, the use of trademarks in domain names, when that use is designed to discuss the human rights record of a particular firm, government or organization.

I will be in Yokohama to discuss this proposal further.


Manon Ress
Debs Jones Douglass Institute

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