Jay Rockefeller Wants to Save the World From ‘www.you.suck’

The Democratic senator is concerned about a new Web domain name.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
March 12, 2014, 1:02 p.m.

It’s a joke that would be funny only to a sixth-grader. But a top Demo­crat­ic sen­at­or has real con­cerns over the pos­sib­il­ity that web­site ad­dresses end­ing in “.sucks” may be used to mock people or or­gan­iz­a­tions.

Sen­ate Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jay Rock­e­feller said Wed­nes­day that a Web do­main like .sucks has “little or no so­cially re­deem­ing value” and could be used for ex­tor­tion.

“I view it as little more than a pred­at­ory shake­down scheme,” Rock­e­feller wrote in a let­ter to the In­ter­net Cor­por­a­tion for As­signed Names and Num­bers, the in­de­pend­ent group that man­ages the Web’s ad­dress sys­tem. “The busi­ness mod­el be­hind this [do­main name] seems to be the fol­low­ing: force large cor­por­a­tions, small busi­nesses, non­profits, and even in­di­vidu­als, to pay on­go­ing fees to pre­vent see­ing the phrase ‘sucks’ ap­pen­ded to their names on the In­ter­net.”

IC­ANN is cur­rently im­ple­ment­ing a plan to ex­pand Web end­ings, known as gen­er­ic top-level do­mains, well bey­ond the tra­di­tion­al .com and .org. Web­sites could soon end in words like .car, .mu­sic, .love, .pizza, or thou­sands of oth­er pos­sib­il­it­ies, in­clud­ing brand names such as .coke.

Three com­pan­ies — Donuts Inc., Mo­ment­ous Corp., and Top Level Spec­trum — have all ap­plied to own .sucks, and IC­ANN will have to de­cide which com­pany (if any) to award the do­main to. Mo­ment­ous has already star­ted so­li­cit­ing ap­plic­a­tions so that people can de­fens­ively buy .sucks Web ad­dresses to pre­vent them from fall­ing in­to the con­trol of oth­ers, Rock­e­feller wrote.

Ma­son Cole, a spokes­man for Donuts, ac­know­ledged that “in cer­tain hands, the do­main name could be prob­lem­at­ic.” But he said trade­mark own­ers can ask Donuts to block cer­tain terms for a “small frac­tion of the cost” of re­gis­ter­ing new web­sites.

“Donuts’ busi­ness mod­el is fo­cused on provid­ing In­ter­net users around the world with real choice in how they craft their on­line iden­tit­ies,” Cole said. “We are not so­li­cit­ing, and have no plans to so­li­cit, ‘de­fens­ive re­gis­tra­tions.’ “

IC­ANN is an in­de­pend­ent non­profit, and there is little the U.S. gov­ern­ment can do to over­ride any of its de­cisions.

“As a com­mit­ted sup­port­er of the multi-stake­hold­er mod­el of glob­al In­ter­net gov­ernance, I feel a re­spons­ib­il­ity to speak up when I see IC­ANN con­sid­er­ing steps that could dam­age its repu­ta­tion,” Rock­e­feller wrote.

What We're Following See More »
Republican Polling Shows Close Race
Roundup: National Polling Remains Inconsistent
10 hours ago

The national polls, once again, tell very different stories: Clinton leads by just one point in the IBD, Rasmussen, and LA Times tracking polls, while she shows a commanding 12 point lead in the ABC news poll and a smaller but sizable five point lead in the CNN poll. The Republican Remington Research Group released a slew of polls showing Trump up in Ohio, Nevada, and North Carolina, a tie in Florida, and Clinton leads in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia. However, an independent Siena poll shows Clinton up 7 in North Carolina, while a Monmouth poll shows Trump up one in Arizona

Colin Powell to Vote for Clinton
12 hours ago
Clinton Reaching Out to GOP Senators
17 hours ago

If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."

Trump Admits He’s Behind
17 hours ago
Ron Klain in Line to Be Clinton’s Chief of Staff?
17 hours ago

Sources tell CNN that longtime Democratic operative Ron Klain, who has been Vice President Biden's chief of staff, is "high on the list of prospects" to be chief of staff in a Clinton White House. "John Podesta, the campaign chairman, has signaled his interest in joining the Cabinet, perhaps as Energy secretary."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.