July 22, 2013

Amazon denied .amazon domain


Bezos attempted to climb to safety but man, did you see the size of that snake?

Amazon will not be given access to the top-level domain name .amazon, it was announced last week.

As reported by Eric Pfanner for the New York Times Bit Blog, the Governmental Advisory Committee for ICANN recommended to that organization that .amazon not be allowed as part of the slate of new domain names soon to hit the internet. Their decision was no doubt influenced by a letter sent to ICANN by a group of South American nations including Brazil, Peru, Uruguay and Chile. The letter is quoted in the Times:

“‘.amazon’ is a geographic name that represents important territories of some of our countries, which have relevant communities, with their own culture and identity directly connected with the name,” the letter said. “Beyond the specifics, this should also be understood as a matter of principle.”

The principle the South American nations are referring to is, as I understand it, a little known agreement from the early days of Arpanet that in the case of a governmental disagreement, anyone who could best a region’s most dangerous wildlife in unarmed combat was welcome to that region’s domain name. The protocol hasn’t often been used since the gory events of June 1998, when one intrepid developer hoped to claim .yukon for his online baked potato delivery service.

Patagonia was similarly denied their request for .patagonia last week, after a company representative found himself facing down the pointy end of a condor.

Pfanner asks an interesting question, namely, why the U.S. government, which is represented in that Governmental Advisory Committee, did not advocate more stridently for Amazon’s request to ICANN. He quotes a letter sent by the Department of commerce to that committee:

“The United States affirms our support for the free flow of information and freedom of expression and does not view sovereignty as a valid basis for objecting to the use of terms, and we have concerns about the effect of such claims on the integrity of the process,” the administration said in the letter. “However, in the event the parties cannot reach agreement by the time this matter comes up for decision in the G.A.C., the United States is willing in Durban to abstain and remain neutral.”

Pfanner attributes U.S. unwillingness to further influence this vote to the recent diplomatic fallout of the NSA wiretap leaks, particularly after Bolivian president Evo Morales‘ plane was grounded and searched for Edward Snowden while en route from Russia earlier this summer.

I, on the other hand, wonder if government officials were not simply hoping to see a sweet fight.

No word yet whether some of the other less disputed top-level domain names requested by Amazon will be allowed, though the .com suffix is so ingrained n collective minds around the world that the loss of .amazon cannot be such a great blow, and indeed the company may have been seeking to register it for strictly defensive purposes. At least for now, it seems nobody will be using that or likely any other geographical domain.

In related news, Jeff Bezos is currently somewhere in the gullet of the biggest goddamn snake I’ve ever seen.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.