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FYI - China To Launch Alternate Country Code Domains
From: "william(at)elan.net" <william () elan net>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 09:43:16 -0800 (PST)



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From: Michael Geist <mgeist () pobox com>
Date: February 28, 2006 9:24:09 AM EST
To: dave () farber net
Subject: China To Launch Alternate Country Code Domains

Dave,

China is preparing to launch what appears to be an alternate root.
Starting tomorrow, they will establish four country-code domains.  In
addition to the current dot-cn, they will offer Chinese character
versions of dot-China, dot-net, and dot-com. As one article puts it,
this "means Internet users don't have to surf the Web via the servers
under the management of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN) of the United States."

Coverage from China is at
http://english.people.com.cn/200602/28/eng20060228_246712.html

I've got some quick commentary at
<http://michaelgeist.ca/component/option,com_content/task,view/id,1130/Itemi
d,85/nsub,/>

which includes:

"The alternate root has always lurked in the background as a possibility
that would force everyone to rethink their positions since it would
enable a single country (or group of countries) to effectively pack up
their bags and start a new game.  The U.S. control would accordingly
prove illusory since a new domain name system situated elsewhere would
be subject to its own rules.  While the two could theoretically co-exist
by having ISPs simply recognize both roots, the system could "break" if
both roots contained identical extensions.  In other words, one root can
have dot-com and other other can have dot-corp, but they can't both have
dot-com.

It is with that background in mind that people need to think about a
press release issued yesterday in China announcing a revamping of its
Internet domain name system.  Starting tomorrow, China's Ministry of
Information Industry plans to begin offering four country-code domains.
 In addition to the dot-cn country code domain, three new Chinese
character domains are on the way: dot-China, dot-net, and dot-com.  As
the People's Daily Online notes this "means Internet users don't have to
surf the Web via the servers under the management of the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) of the United States."

In other words, the Chinese Internet becomes a reality tomorrow. With
it, the rules of the game may change as 110 million Internet users will
suddenly have access to a competing dot-com (albeit in a different
character set) and will no longer rely exclusively on ICANN for the
resolution of Internet domain name queries.  This change was probably
inevitable regardless of the status of ICANN, however, the U.S. position
can't possibly have helped matters.  Indeed, some might note that while
Congress has been criticizing U.S. companies for cooperating with
Chinese law enforcement and thereby harming Internet freedoms, those
same Congressional leaders may have done the same by refusing to even
consider surrendering some control over the Internet root to the
international community and thereby opening the door to an alternate
root that could prove even worse from a freedom perspective.

This week's announcement certainly doesn't mark the end of a global
interoperable Internet.  It does move one step further toward that path
since in Internet governance terms, the credible threat is now real."

MG
--**********************************************************************
Professor Michael A. Geist
Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law
57 Louis Pasteur St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5
Tel: 613-562-5800, x3319     Fax: 613-562-5124
mgeist () pobox com              http://www.michaelgeist.ca


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