More on Dot Travel

Back in August I wrote about the new “.travel” (aka “dot travel”) domain, and included some information sent to me by the Tourism Industry Association of PEI as well as some important information about the controversial domain from writer and travel agent Edward Hasbrouck.

Edward’s efforts have continued, and his most recent update on the situation is chilling, and not only for what it says about ICANN and .travel, but also for what it portends for other top-level domains in the future:

The issues for travellers, and the public interest, remain as significant (if subtle, because almost no one is actually using “.aero” or “.travel” yet) as ever. While keeping top-level domains artificially scarce to enhance their value to the handful of companies given the franchise to control them, ICANN is allocating a huge proportion of this limited Internet “namespace” for the exclusive use of the industry that sells travel-related services — and is equating that “industry” with the entire concept of “travel”. What should be a public commons is being captured by corporate interests, travel is being reduced to the purchase of services, and travellers and the rest of the public are being reduced to “consumers”. “.Aero” and “travel” are the first industry-specific TLD’s, making travel the test case of the corporate enclosure of this virtual commons.

Coincidentally, the December TIAPEI e-NEWS FLASH! contains the following item:

.travel Place Name Deadline December 31
Tourism officials would be well advised to ensure their place names are registered on the new top level domain name, .travel, before the window closes on Dec. 31, 2005. Any Place Names not applied for by the December 31, 2005 deadline will be returned to the general pool of domain names, allowing any travel entities to potentially secure unclaimed Place Names.
Over six million Place Names, including the names of cities, towns, heritage sites, and parks that are reserved exclusively for authorized bodies, will expire at the end of this calendar year. Addresses such as www.princeedwardisland.travel, www.charlottetown.travel and some of the most valuable online domain names on the Internet will then become available.

In light of Edward’s stated concerns, this “place name” issue seems doubly concerning: it means that “travel entities” will be in sole control of place name dot travel domains; if that’s not “corporate enclosure of this virtual commons,” I don’t know what is.

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