Now to the Middle East
Next comes Israel, and its representative Dina Beer. "I'm writing to submit an objection to the release of the name 'il.casino', 'il.bingo', 'il.law', 'il.chat', 'il.bible', 'il.country', 'il.airforce', 'il.navy' and 'il.army' for their registration by the Registry operator of these TLDs."
An intriguing mix of military and religious concerns that fits in entirely with the Israeli government's preoccupations but 'il.chat'?
You also have to wonder whether internet users would really associate "il" with Israel under dot-words like .law and .chat – imagine a kitschy message board for gardeners called daffod.il.chat, or similar.
While some governments were listing the names they were concerned about, the European Union has taken the opposite approach – and is confirming the names it does not object to.
EU is the country code for European Union residents. Within the European Union, the terms 'EU Community' or 'European Community' are widely used. Therefore, the domain 'eu.community' may generate significant issues and confusion at multiple levels.
Does the EU really intend to send 1,000+ emails to cover every single new top-level domain? And what of the other 399 other countries listed under the ISO 3166-2 standard that is used to decide which country has rights over which two-letter code? Is ICANN going to have to go through 400,000 emails?
The French government clearly decided it needed to make things a little more concise, so it sent in a response covering '.fr' and all its territories (gp, wf, re, pm, mf, pf, nc, mq, yt, tf, gf, bl).
It then provided a list of 15 new top-level domains that it wants someone to get prior authorization from the French government for before they can be released.
The French government sticks with the Spanish and Italian government in protecting .fr.casino, and with the Israeli government in protecting .fr.army', .fr.airforce, and .fr.navy. It doesn't seem bothered about .fr.bible or .fr.pizza, but for some reason .fr.archi is in there - perhaps an architect major somewhere in the French government is upset?
The full-on approach
The Namibian government (which owns .na) started off using the EU's one email per top-level domain approach, before it got fed up and starting sending a series of emails with a long list of dot-words in the subject line.
Here's one example:
moe; gop; club; vip; law; london; azure; bing; xbox; hotmail; microsoft; windows; skype; chloe; cartier; iwc; montblanc; jlc; piaget; panerai
It objects to those. And then sent another 19 emails exactly like it with a long list of names that it objects to.
This was all too much for the Portuguese government which decided it would just be much simpler to say no one can have any pt.* second-level domains until they get approval from the government beforehand - a scenario that the people running the registries had specifically asked ICANN to avoid.
From the registry perspective, having to get formal approval from every government of the world in order to register a single domain is simply not worth it. And the likelihood is that in the vast majority of cases there won't be any real problem with the registration.
It does raise the question though whether someone would have to get government approval before transferring ownership of a protected domain name. Government-sanctioned domains – exactly what the internet doesn't need.
And now it falls apart
This process is clearly the sort of thing that ICANN is supposed to prevent from happening: unclear and arbitrary rules with no real connection to reality, resulting in an impossible level of bureaucracy.
The country that really takes the biscuit is Montenegro. In its submission, little ol' Monte is going to simply ban any use of its country-code under all the new dot-words. Which is a shame since Montenegro's code is an extremely common word with an enormous array of possible use: me.
What would cause the government to shut down any effort to have the word me used as a second-level domain, shooting down names like read.me.book? Possibly the contract it has with the company that sells .me domains on its behalf.
The government of Montenegro ran a tendering process for its .me domains back in 2008, and it takes a cut of every domain sold.
In its first five years of running, the government received €13.2m ($14.3m). Perhaps that's why its government rep is concerned than any domains with .me. in them "may create confusion with the .me as ccTLD [country code top-level domain]."
It's hard to imagine a more stark example of how global policy is shaped by one group's commercial imperatives.
So well done, Italy, for believing it has the rights to a foodstuff; bravo to Israel to shutting down 'il.chat'; cheers to Montenegro for pure naked greed; and congratulations to ICANN for failing miserably to create a coherent domain name policy, despite that being your sole job and having had 10 years to get it right. ®