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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    gTLDs hoping to enter the legacy root 2-Letter Airline Codes OK for .aero
    posted by michael on Wednesday September 05 2001, @01:27PM

    dtobias writes "According to this memo, the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency Secretariat, which administrates the country code system, has approved the use of two-letter labels at the second level of the .aero domain for the purpose of reflecting two-letter airline codes as they have been used in the aviation industry for the last 50 years. However, with bureaucratic reserve, they ended by stating that this approval "must under no circumstances be regarded as setting a precedent for possible uses of two-letter codes as SLDs in other new TLDs.""

    I find it somewhat troubling that ICANN has set up a system where it's necessary to get this agency's approval to use two-letter strings as second level domains in any TLD (other than the "grandfathered" names that have already been registered in existing TLDs, like lp.org for the Libertarian Party). The aim is to prevent confusion with country codes, but it sets an unpleasant precedent that entire categories of character strings can be considered to be "owned" by an agency which can put roadblocks in the way of the use of these strings anywhere in the namespace, whether they're used to refer to countries or to something else. Certainly, airline codes are not the only two-letter codes or acronyms that exist in the world other than country codes, and even two-letter codes used to refer to countries aren't intellectual properties owned by the ISO 3166 agency or even the respective countries. Why a TLD can't decide to subdivide itself geographically using country codes without getting some bureaucrats' permission I can't quite grasp.

    Giving this agency approval power over a set of strings in all TLDs is a bad precedent, likely to lead to many other entities demanding similar powers over other parts of the naming system -- as is already apparent in some of the WIPO proposals granting restrictions on the use of nonproprietary drug names and international intergovernmental agency names.

    The agency notes that they'd like to see all two and three letter abbreviations restricted, but they didn't quite get all they wanted from ICANN.

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