Obama wants you to clear that new domain name with the government

It’s bad enough that we have Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seizing domains, including legal foreign domains, just because they think the sites are doing something illegal but now it seems that the Obama administration wants to go even further and make it so you have to get government approval for that new domain.

Yes, as hard as it might to believe, Declan McCullagh over at CNET has a report that:

The Obama administration is quietly seeking the power for it and other governments to veto future top-level domain names, a move that raises questions about free expression, national sovereignty, and the role of states in shaping the future of the Internet.

This is coming about as a new wave of domain suffixes are being applied for to extend the list of top level domains that already exist: .com, .org, and .net. The Obama administration is glossing over the affair as they say in a statement to CNET:

“has merit as it diminishes the potential for blocking of top level domain strings considered objectionable by governments. This type of blocking harms the architecture of the DNS and undermines the goal of universal resolvability (i.e., a single global Internet that facilitates the free flow of goods and services and freedom of expression).”

However Declan points out that what the government is looking for is veto rights over any new domain suffix being created.

The Obama administration is proposing (PDF) that domain approval procedures be changed to include a mandatory “review” by an ICANN advisory panel comprised of representatives of roughly 100 nations. The process is open-ended, saying that any government “may raise an objection to a proposed (suffix) for any reason.” Unless at least one other nation disagrees, the proposed new domain name “shall” be rejected.

This would create an explicit governmental veto over new top-level domains. Under the procedures previously used in the creation of .biz, .name, and .info, among others, governments could offer advice, but the members of the ICANN board had the final decision.

Okay so Obama isn’t really looking have a say over what you want to call your new domain but that doesn’t mean that having a veto over whether a new domain suffix is added isn’t good either.