Google Well Poised To Privatize The Web

Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Consumer Watchdog warns of TLD shopping spree

    Consumer Watchdog is calling for ICANN to keep a close eye on enormous corporations such as Google and Amazon, and to reject applications made to buy new Top Level Domains (TLDs) in bulk.

    The watchdog addressed the open letter to ICANN’s board and CEO and other relevant parties. John M Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog, said that there are plans by Google and Amazon to buy up enormous amounts of new TLDs. Simpson argues that it is one matter for a company to buy associated domains such as .Google, .YouTube, .Android, .Amazon, or .Kindle, but says that is not what they are looking to do.

    Simpson pointed out that Google is using a subsidiary, Charlestone Road Registry, to spend $18.7 million on domain names such as .eat, .buy, .book, .free, .web, and .family, while Amazon has applied for .free, .like, .game, and .shop. They are looking to buy 101 and 76 domain strings respectively.

    Consumer Watchdog said in its letter that generic words are not the property of any one company, and that when they are used in a generic way, they belong to all people. But, the watchdog points out, if they are allowed to buy generic names they are closing off common words which they haven’t got intellectual property rights over – nor are they even associated with the brand. Simpson warns that ICANN will be allowing the companies to “circumvent nation-states’ entrenched legal processes for obtaining legitimate and recognised trademark protections”.

    In doing so, the argument is that corporations will effectively be privatising parts of the internet – with the possibility of becoming walled gardens.

    “Both Google and Amazon are already dominant players on the internet,” Simpson said. “Allowing them further control,” Simpson said, “would threaten the free and open internet that consumers rely upon”.

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