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The Internet Networking IT

Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says 113

angry tapir writes The Internet domain name for a country doesn't belong to that country — nor to anyone, according to ICANN. Plaintiffs who successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as sponsors of terrorism want to seize the three countries' ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) as part of financial judgments against them. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet, says they can't do that because ccTLDs aren't even property.
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Countries Don't Own Their Internet Domains, ICANN Says

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  • Identifiers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:10AM (#47573349) Homepage Journal

    Until this nonsense about keyword TLDs, TLDs were just identifiers, not property as ICANN noted. But this custom TLD nonsense is going to throw a wrench into that.

    I could see seizing the domain registrars, but as they say, how do you seize an identifier? That's like saying I "own" the variable "x", and that all graphics programmers now need to pay me to lease use of that variable name.

    • Re:Identifiers (Score:5, Informative)

      by barlevg ( 2111272 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:20AM (#47573383)

      That's like saying I "own" the variable "x", and that all graphics programmers now need to pay me to lease use of that variable name.

      Because that's never happened before. []

    • Re:Identifiers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:01AM (#47573561)
      Or perhaps, it is like saying the term "Iran" can be seized after a lawsuit.
    • This is absolutely ridiculous. It's as you say, Iran no longer being able to call themselves "Iran", because someone lays claim to the word. This BS about "property right" has gone way too far enough already. While I do recognize that there needs to be certain protections for intellectual property on par with physical property, there has to be reasonable limits to it as well. One should not be able to claim any kind of "ownership" to knowledge in the public, nor should one be able to hold indefinite rights.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:36AM (#47573457) Homepage
    whenever we need to seize a domain in the realm of the DMCA, ICE (immigration, customs enforcement) can and does SEIZE the domain, so it must in fact belong to someone. Domain registrars were forced across the country to de-list wikileaks often due to local circuit court judges on behalf of private entities, but mostly due to quiet pressure from the United States government against its payment card processors. .uk and .fm sites are managed by agents of their respective governments, as are .ru and .au, so it would be strange to insist a country manage, yet never own their TLD.

    Offtopic i know, but another thing that strikes me as absurd is the lawsuit. "Plaintiffs who successfully sued Iran, Syria and North Korea as sponsors of terrorism" include who exactly? and of these plaintiffs how many are willing to admit they openly ignore their own governments sponsorship of terrorism? The suit seems rather silly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Domains and ccTLDs are not the same things.

    • by Arker ( 91948 )

      Nice rant but missing a few facts.

      These are not domains like ICE have seized (which are analogous to post office box #xxxx) but the ccTLDs (more analogous to the zip code at the end.) Which is really a good way to grok how absurd the request is - imagine the families of the Iranians who died when the USN shot down their passenger jet sue the USA in their court systems, get a civil judgement, and then attempt to 'confiscate' the international postal codes used to route mail to the USA.

      "Offtopic i know, bu

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think the GP has a point. Why is one part of the domain name considered property but the other part isn't? It doesn't seem to be internally consistent. It feels like tortured reasoning when every other aspect of DNS is treated like property.

        If TLDs aren't property, how can any entity control and regulate them? Doesn't that require the kinds of power that imply ownership?

        Doesn't ICANN make money of registrars who effectively sell TLDs?

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Why is one part of the domain name considered property but the other part isn't?

          Because registrants have been conveyed a transferrable "right" to their registration, which has a set of privileges which are mostly identical to property rights, other than the fact that the registry generally reserves the right to take their name from them under a UDRP dispute resolution procedure, and the registrar generally reserves the right to shut off their domain, in case they determine that there's been a terms of

    • by btsfh ( 750772 )

      ICE, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies can only seize domains that are managed by registrars or registries in countries in which they have jurisdiction. Very easy to seize a .com or a .biz (Verisign and Neustar are both in the US,) a bit rarder to seize a .cn (unless China wants to allow them to.)

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        can only seize domains that are managed by registrars or registries in countries in which they have jurisdiction

        In this case, the registrant of the domain has a transferrable right to move the domain, and the registrar is acting as an agent of the registrant in maintaining their registration, AND the registry has given the registrar all the capabilities required to effect the technical aspects of the transfer on their own..

        If the registry were truly looking out for the registrant's interests: they wou

  • Syria (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:43AM (#47573481)

    I think the ownership of the country of Syria is in dispute, never mind the tld domain name

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:52AM (#47573513)

    ...but I was under the impression they all belonged to the City of London police?

  • is those countries series of tubes, and install valves on them and charge for the flow.

    In other words, they could put a toll on the internet superhighway, so that each time a big truck enters that country, there's a price to be paid.

  • by joe545 ( 871599 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:04AM (#47573571)

    The UK courts generate a lot of uproar in the US (and rightly so) about them overstepping their jurisdiction with regards to libel laws. There seems to be a complete lack of self-awareness when lawsuits such as these come up. The plaintiffs in this case are trying to collect their award of $109 million (from a default judgement in Rubin et al v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al,) in retribution to injuries caused by a Hamas bombing they claim was funded by Iran. Using the American courts in this way rides roughshod over other the independence of other countries.

    They also tried to sue the EU for giving aid to the "terrorist sponsoring" Palestinian Authority (they lost due to diplomatic immunity). Using the courts in this way seems to have very little to do with justice and more to do with politics.

    • Unfortunately as long as ICANN is under US jurisdiction, you're going to see disputes like this heading to US courts. (That said, I'm growing more and more wary of moves to internationalise the infrastructure; leaving it with the US's stewardship the least-bad option right now, even after the NSA revelations.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by joe545 ( 871599 )

        When was the last time you heard anything controversial about the UN-run ITU?

        • Well, there was that attempt at a power grab for control of the Internet back in 2012 [] through regulatory capture mechanisms, which failed after China and Russia withdrew their support, but only after the EU [], US [], and a good chunk of the rest of the Western world (including Google []) expressed condemnation of the idea.

          Other than that, no controversies come to mind, though I should hope that's the case, given that they're a simple regulatory body.

        • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

          When was the last time you heard anything controversial about the UN-run ITU?

          Ha-ha! You want to jand the Internet over to the people who invented X.25. Good one!

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Unfortunately as long as ICANN is under US jurisdiction, you're going to see disputes like this heading to US courts.

        It's NOT icann I am concerned about.... it is the registry operators such as Verisign.

        ICANN itself pretty much doesn't have any direct authority to do anything to the registration system on their own; they have to adopt a policy, or so.

        ICANN could be further mitigated if internet citizens would be willing to fund another organization living in another jurisdiction to share authorit

    • If this works out, Israel might have a much bigger counter-suit on their hands. []

      "Israeli sniper terrorist bragging about murdering 13 kids "

  • by stewsters ( 1406737 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:06AM (#47573581)
    Its a name, specifically for a country. You can't sue someone and take away their name. What if I sued the US government and then got awarded their name, and they had to change theirs to something else? That's ridiculous.
  • Good.

    Being a "good guy" or a "bad guy" is always subjective. Whatever nonsense you pull on the "Bad guys" today will eventually be used by them against you once they convince enough people you're a "Bad guy" Best leave nonsensical BS like stripping them on their domains alone. It will only turn out badly. I mean, really, would it be that hard to convince enough people that the USA is a terrorist entity?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      would it be that hard to convince enough people that the USA is a terrorist entity?

      And just how many countries have we bombed unprovoked in the past 40 years? How many unconvicted terrorists have we tortured/killed? How many countries have we sold weapons to who have used those weapons on their own populations and/or neighbors?

      Oh, right.

  • Whew. FFS... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:39AM (#47573825) Homepage

    Sure, let's tear apart the integrity of our global network for the sake of sticking it to a government. Did anyone think through what would happen if you disrupted the network on such a scale? The national ISPs would host their own root, and anyone abroad who wanted to keep accessing those domains would likewise switch to alt roots.

    End result, the domain name system gets fractured, ICANN and the US govt retain less control of the internet, and also they look like assholes.

    Good thing this was dismissed as the dumb idea it was.

    • Well, having the US government retain less control of the entire internet isn't a bad thing. Unless you're a fucking moron.

      • It is from their perspective, which makes this a stupid decision even by their own interests.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        It actually seems like it is bad thing.
        IF it goes to the UN, it will the be parted to to different groups.

        Going to the UN is a way to splinter the internet. So right now, the US does look like the best practical option. Unless you want different countries to dictate the rules for different parts of the internet.

        • I'll tell you what.

          Pick a country, any country other than the US. Let them have it for the next 25 years.

          Now imagine you're neither country. Dependent on a bully country and some other random country for your internet control. Which would you take? Or the UN?

          • If the random country is Switzerland, I'd probably go with them. They seem to be quite good at the whole neutrality thing overall.
          • by suutar ( 1860506 )

            Sealand! []

    • Re The national ISPs would host their own root.
      Yes nations would just go for a version of the classic Minitel [] with a nice web 2.0 feel.
      Other nations would then set up their own networks understanding they could be 'next'.
  • a TLD is sort of like a way to identify an address. For example, you'd never say "I'm going to go to 4202 E Fowler Avenue", you'd say "I'm going to go to the University of South Florida". In the same way, you rarely browse the internet by typing in an IP address, you use a domain name. So essentially all they'd be doing is confiscating a nickname while I really think they want to confiscate the actual property (the IP address, and subsequently the servers).
  • It's like seizing a zip code. Moronic.
    • by stdarg ( 456557 )

      It's not really analogous to zip codes because zip codes are an internal system of the post office. But authority for TLDs is farmed out to various agencies, governments, or companies, who make money off them and get to decide the rules for registering names under that TLD. See []

      So .ir is under the authority of the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences ( which is "a government-sponsored advanced research institute founded in 1989 in

  • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @10:01AM (#47574009)

    What kind of Commie Talk is that? This is the 21st Century and Capitalism and the Free Market are Triumphant.

    Everything is property and Must Be Monetized.

    In fact, I'm sure that any day now someone will patent each and every individual air molecule on the planet and charge us royalties for breathing them.

    We're already well on the way to doing that for water.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      How will that work when the trees I own produce their own air?

  • Jebus H. Christ, Tlds are bits on an HDD. Who can 'own' those? The whole concept of 'intellectual property' is laughable and disintegrates after 3 stages of rationalisation the latest. Especially with network meta directories such as the DNService.
    I can send them a HDD full of Tlds, including ones that I just made up. If they pay me a little more I might even take a used server and set up a DNS to serve them.
    1000 Euros and it's theirs.

    • by stdarg ( 456557 )

      Nobody wants ownership of the bits on the HDD.

      This is not complicated. Think of it as a series of tubes... ICANN decides which tube connects to which name. Right now ".ir" is connected to "the Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences" in Tehran, Iran ( The plaintiffs want to force ICANN to disconnect that tube and hook it up to "Some New Registrar Inc." which they will presumably set up. Then they get to decide the rules under which domain names can be registered u

  • Perhaps they should try to sieze their country codes [] instead!

  • ICANN's primary objective - at least for the last 10 or so years - has been profit maximization. They have done everything they can to help registrars make more money without concern for the long-term consequences of atrociously bad decisions (such as selling gTLDs).
  • ICANN could reasonably argue that the ccTLDs are "licensed" in some form or another - but that doesn't in itself invalidate the ownership of said *license*. I "own" the exclusive right to operate and manage my domain for as long as I renew on time and the domain registrar plays by the rules. No reason to assume that TLD's operate any differently.
    But ICANN seem to want their cake and eat it. "The domains are not property and can't be owned" they cry, at the same time as asserting that only ICANN can assign

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus