[bc-gnso] .WTF application

icann at rodenbaugh.com icann at rodenbaugh.com
Tue Sep 25 19:07:36 UTC 2012

It seems this Donuts application has not received nearly as much specific
public scrutiny as it perhaps should, given the larger issues around Donuts’
entire application portfolio.  We have filed the following comment today on
behalf of the World Trade Center Association, and would appreciate hearing
other companies’ views on this issue, particularly we would like to hear
them expressed to ICANN’s public comment forum and to GAC representatives



Our law firm represents the World Trade Center Association with respect to
ICANN matters.  WTCA is a leading trade association in the promotion of
international trade.  The WTCA’s licensed members operate the well-known
World Trade Center facilities around the world.  The WTCA is a
long-established and famous multinational corporation, with more than 40
years of history.  It was incorporated in 1969 and officially established in
1970.  WTCA is currently comprised of more than 325 licensed members,
carrying out business in over 90 countries.  


WTCA is concerned about the application of a Donuts, Inc. company (Hidden
Way, LLC) to register the .WTF gTLD.  As typical of the 300+ other
applications filed by Donuts companies, this application says very little
about Donuts’ plan for this TLD.  In response to Question 18, they only


Donuts believes in an open Internet and, accordingly, we will encourage
inclusiveness in the registration policies for this TLD.  In order to avoid
harm to legitimate registrants, Donuts will not artificially deny access, on
the basis of identity alone (without legal cause), to a TLD that represents
a generic form of activity and expression.  [¶]  WTF is a pop-culture term
that is attractive to registrants seeking new avenues for expression on the
Internet, and who are perhaps interested in demonstrations of irony,
skepticism, humor, and critique. Individuals and groups will register names
in .WTF when interested in editorializing, providing input, interacting with
other communities, and publishing commentary.


>From this it is only clear that the primary purpose of the unrestricted TLD
is to refer to the “pop-culture term” represented by the WTF TLD string –
“What the F—k?”  Indeed, many people, organizations and governments likely
will be asking that question of ICANN, if this TLD application is approved.
The common pop culture meaning of the WTF acronym focuses upon a word that
is deemed by many people as one of the most offensive words in the English
language, which further has transcended into most non-English speaking
cultures.  Generally, ICANN ought not be allowing an accredited TLD operator
to sell domain names specifically centering on that "F-word," which is
vulgar and offensive to so many people.  There are plenty of other ways for
people to express themselves, even among Donuts’ other hundreds of TLDs, and
further by using references to that word in domains at the second and higher
level.  There simply ought not be an ICANN-accredited TLD registry focusing
its sales efforts around such a word.


ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook states that a TLD should not be approved if the
applied-for gTLD string is contrary to generally accepted legal norms of
morality and public order that are recognized under principles of
international law.  To be sure, use of the “F-word” in public discourse is
not generally accepted as morally appropriate or orderly, even if legal in
some contexts.  Merely saying that word, particularly in a public or social
context, can bring penalties under the laws and/or broadcast regulations of
many if not most nations.  The lead sentence in the Wikipedia entry for the
word states that it “is almost universally considered vulgar.”  Further:


The word's use is considered obscene in social contexts
.  In the modern
English-speaking world, the word [
] is often considered highly offensive.
Most English-speaking countries censor it on television and radio.  A [year
2000] study of the attitudes of the British public found that [the word] was
considered the third most severe profanity and its derivative [mother-
  The term remains a taboo word to many people in English-speaking
countries. The word also carries a sacrilegious connotation to some.  Many
religious people oppose the use of profane, vulgar, and "curse" words which
they see as offensive to a deity. It is considered highly offensive to utter
the word in the presence of children.


Therefore, WTCA urges ICANN’s Independent Objector to further explore this
issue, to file a Limited Public Interest Objection against this application
as soon as possible, and for ICANN’s designated resolution panel to sustain
that objection.  WTCA also encourages GAC representatives to issue early
warnings to Donuts, and formal advice to ICANN to reject the application on
this basis.  Ultimately, WTCA would urge the ICANN Board to reject the
application on the same basis.  


WTCA is further concerned about potential negative associations between this
TLD string and the .WTC TLD which WTCA seeks to operate.  But the WTCA hopes
that its specific concerns need not be expressed as the general community
concern is so obvious and significant.  Failing rejection via ICANN process,
WTCA reserves all other rights it may specifically have with respect to the
.WTF application and proposed registry business.


Mike Rodenbaugh


tel/fax:  +1.415.738.8087


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