Health Domains for Sale: The Need for Global Health Internet Governance

Journal of Medical Internet Research, Volume 16, Issue 3:e62 1-11

11 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2016

See all articles by Tim Mackey

Tim Mackey

University of California, Berkeley

Bryan A. Liang

University of California San Diego School of Medicine

Jillian C. Kohler

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto

Amir Attaran

University of Ottawa - Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine; University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

A debate on Internet governance for health, or “eHealth governance”, is emerging with the impending award of a new dot-health (.health) generic top-level domain name (gTLD) along with a host of other health-related domains. This development is critical as it will shape the future of the health Internet, allowing largely unrestricted use of .health second-level domain names by future registrants, raising concerns about the potential for privacy, use and marketing of health-related information, credibility of online health content, and potential for Internet fraud and abuse. Yet, prospective .health gTLD applicants do not provide adequate safeguards for use of .health or related domains and have few or no ties to the global health community. If approved, one of these for-profit corporate applicants would effectively control the future of the .health address on the Internet with arguably no active oversight from important international public health stakeholders. This would represent a lost opportunity for the public health, medical, and broader health community in establishing a trusted, transparent and reliable source for health on the Internet. Countries, medical associations, civil society, and consumer advocates have objected to these applications on grounds that they do not meet the public interest. We argue that there is an immediate need for action to postpone awarding of the .health gTLD and other health-related gTLDs to address these concerns and ensure the appropriate development of sound eHealth governance rules, principles, and use. This would support the crucial need of ensuring access to quality and evidence-based sources of health information online, as well as establishing a safe and reliable space on the Internet for health. We believe, if properly governed, .health and other domains could represent such a promise in the future.

Keywords: eHealth, global health governance, information technology, Internet, domain names

Suggested Citation

Mackey, Tim and Liang, Bryan A. and Kohler, Jillian C. and Attaran, Amir, Health Domains for Sale: The Need for Global Health Internet Governance (2014). Journal of Medical Internet Research, Volume 16, Issue 3:e62 1-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2745447

Tim Mackey (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Bryan A. Liang

University of California San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

San Diego Center for Patient Safety
350 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-515-1568 (Phone)
619-515-1599 (Fax)

Jillian C. Kohler

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto ( email )

144 College St.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3M2
Canada

Amir Attaran

University of Ottawa - Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine ( email )

451 Smyth Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5
Canada

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada
613-562-5800 ext: 2015 (Phone)
613-562-5659 (Fax)

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