Published on: 20.12.17

IGF Day 2: Domain Names in the Focus

Author: Jutta Croll , Organisation: Stiftung Digitale Chancen

IGF Tag 2: Domainnamen im Fokus (deutsche Version des Artikels)

19.12.2017: Someday all internet users will encounter the topic of domain names for example when they register a domain for professional or private purpose or when they land on a website located at a sub domain of one of the new generic Top Level Domains like .digital here in use. But nearly no one knows the organisation responsible for domain names their structure and procedures. ICANN is a non-profit organisation based in California, acting worldwide. This is mirrored in their board that is supposed to be composed diverse both in regard of geography and culture. The ICANN meetings that are held usually three times a year over several days are generally open to everybody. However most civil society organisations especially those advocating children’s rights and child protection only seldom have the human resources and financial budget to take part in those meetings held all over the world.

Today we got the opportunity to hold a Lightning Session where we explained to IGF participants „The Impact of Domain Names on Children’s Rights and Child Safety“ and pointed out possible measures to counteract risks for children.

The allocation of domain names holds high potential to ensure children’ s rights and their protection from inappropriate content and inadequate contact. For domain names especially attractive to children f. e. sub domains under .play or .kids the risk of misuse could be reduced significantly by safety reviews within the registration procedure. The Verified Top Level Domain Consortiums (vTLD) demonstrates how such a safety check is performed for generic Top Level Domains like .bank. The review of applicants for respective domains causes additional efforts, thus the registration of a vTLDs costs at present around 1.500 USD. This is affordable for companies applying for registration of a sub domain under .bank, but it’s not for child welfare organisations that would like to register a sub domain under .play or .kids.

In other cases domains with respective names pave the way directly to illegal content, f. e. when child sexual abuse imagery is hosted there. Often it could be common interest of the registry that has the right to grant sub domains under a certain TLD, and the child protection community, to keep the address space clean. A domain like could host legitimate content, but when child sexual abuse material can be found there children’s rights and dignity are violated and the reputation of the respective city will be damaged as well. In order to change this co-operation of all stakeholders involved is needed, reliable agreements on the procedures and a fund to finance the additional security checks for child sensitive domain names.

More information can be found in the presentation to the Lightning Session that is available here for download.

Further information

Source: eigener Bericht