Friday, August 17, 2012

Saudi Government Agency Files 166 Objections, Many Religion-Based, To Proposed New gTLD's

As previously reported, in June the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) published a list of who has applied for which new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) names.  At least 15 of the proposed new gTLD's have religious connotations.  With the deadline for general comments on the applications recently extended to September 26, already a number of objections, as well as supporting statements, have been filed for certain of the religious themed URL suffixes. Today Online reported yesterday that Saudi Arabia's Communication and Information Technology Commission has filed 166 objections.  The gTLD's that the Saudi's oppose include .catholic (because other churches use the term in their names) and .islam (because the applicant cannot represent the entire Muslim community).  The Saudi Commission states more generally:
... we believe that any and all gTLD applications for any name in relation to religion or a specific community should be presented to representative members of that community for evaluation and the view of such members should be taken into account when granting or denying the application. If this cannot be accomplished then these community and religious sensitive names/words should be restricted completely from being used as gTLD's altogether.
The Saudis have also filed objections to proposed gTLD's that are associated with items prohibited by Islamic law, such as .tattoo, .bar, .pub, .gay, .vodka.  The Saudis also oppose .bible because "with a number of religions, and groups within them, disagreeing over the provenance and content of the bible one group or individual should not be permitted to define what the bible is, or is not, on the world wide web."

An examination of the objections which have been filed with ICANN can be searched from this website.  To view all the filings by the Saudis, search by "Name" for "Abdulmjid". Searches can also be made by "String" to find comments on any of the other proposed gTLD's.  For example, an individual concerned about the Church of England has objected to the Vatican's application for the .catholic gTLD. [Correction: an earlier version incorrectly attributed this objection to the Church of England itself.]  [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]