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China’s IDN flop, Who to blame?

Posted by on 2010/02/26. Filed under International. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By Unknown author received by Boxun
Feb 26, 2010 – 7:21:02 PM

On Jan. 21, 2010, ICANN approved the first four internationalized top-level domain names. Egypt, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have passed the language character (string) evaluation. An alarming shock to the Chinese internet communities, China being one of the pioneers in IDN policy & development exploration, is not on the list. ICANN declined to comment after its news release when approached by Chinese internet news reporters. Insider source has point the failure directly to Rod Beckstrom, the new ICANN CEO & former US National Security Agency Chief. Did Rod Beckstrom really failed China’s IDN application as “inspired” by the US government?

ICANN has been long blamed by the international community for not fairly representing global interests. ICANN has vowed to change this by signing new Affirmation of Commitment with US Department of Commerce. ICANN has also planned to kick off its first Accountability, Transparency Review process at the coming Nairobi Meeting in early March. But when putting into test of fair play in the IDN application, China became the first victim and CNNIC, the official National Internet Registry of China who submits the IDN application, was knocked out unconscious in the battlefield at the first round.

China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) is the operator & administrator of .CN country code top level domain and Chinese Domain Name System (Internationalized domain names that contain Chinese Characters). After the ICANN’s news release, CNNIC has been working relentlessly with the Chinese Medias to undermine the impact of their failed IDN application. CNNIC has become “famous” after being exposed on the national television for lack of effective Domain Name Administration in China’s Previous Anti-Pornography Campaign.

Due to sensitiveness of the matter, an unidentified CNNIC staff commented ICANN’s decision of rejecting China’s application: “A clear signal that ICANN is still leading the American way, blocking China’s internet development plan”. When further questioned, CNNIC staff took the recent example of Google attacks and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s internet freedom speech, describing the inter-connection among these separate issues and a Internet Policy Scheme carefully carried out by the US Government poised to derail China’s fast internet growth. As quoted by CNNIC Staff: “In summary, ICANN is still the very same organization who works for US’s interest first before anyone else”. The controversial complain also arise from various previous private meetings between officials from ICANN & CNNIC, which has agreed upon the introduction of .中国 with the Fast Track Implementation. CNNIC staff refuses to discuss detailed records of those meetings.

As described by unnamed CNNIC staff, China has been working with ICANN on the IDN policies and implementation over the past decade and has contributed to RFC3743 & RFC4713. China has heavily promoted its IDN application among Chinese internet users after successfully resolve its variant issues and has running test bed for years with no problems. If CNNIC now is not able to deliver its Chinese IDN promise as originally promoted, it is unlikely to see this issue rest unsettled.

Once the media attention caught the eyes of Chinese internet users, unforeseeable pressure will be mounted to CNNIC’s shoulder to demand a clear answer from ICANN. Though most Chinese internet users are not familiar with the technical complexity behind the decision, the same question will be asked by CNNIC, Chinese internet community and their 384 million internet users: Why Chinese Domain Names need ICANN’s approval? Is China still a sovereign nation under the one internet as ICANN envisioned? When it comes to Internet Era, does the US still rule the future of the Internet?

It would be interesting to watch how this matter unfolds. Was CNNIC another subject of abuse by ICANN on its IDN application? How would China react towards future relations with ICANN? Can Rod Beckstrom really do the job right? Let’s wait and see!


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