Territorialization of the Internet Domain Name System
44 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2017 Last revised: 30 Aug 2018
Date Written: March 25, 2017
Territorialization of the internet—the linking of the internet to physical geography—is a growing trend. Internet users have become accustomed to the conveniences of localized advertising, have enjoyed location-based services, and have witnessed an increasing use of geolocation and geoblocking tools by service and content providers who—for various reasons—either allow or block access to internet content based on users’ physical locations. This article analyzes whether, and if so how, the trend toward territorialization has affected the internet Domain Name System (“DNS”). As a hallmark of cyberspace governance that aimed to be detached from the territorially-partitioned governance of the physical world, the DNS might have been expected to resist territorialization—a design that seems antithetical to the original design of and intent for the internet as a globally distributed network that lacks a single point of control. However, the DNS has never been completely detached from physical geography, with which it has many ties, and the article shows that the trend toward increased territorialization is detectable in the DNS as well. The article contemplates what impact, if any, the trend will have on the future of the DNS—a future that is challenged by the role of internet search engines, whose predominant use by internet users could render the DNS, as we know it today, obsolete.
Keywords: internet, domain name, DNS, ICANN, gTLD, UDRP, dispute resolution, online, territory, territoriality, territorialization, ccTLD, new gTLD, choice of law, applicable law, conflicts of law, governance, trademark, geographical indication, state, country, brand, territorial fidelity, authenticity
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