CNET quoted Syracuse School of Information Studies Professor Milton Mueller in an article entitled “U.S. seeks veto power over new domain names” about the recent U.S. proposal that would allow national governments to veto the creation of top-level domains (TLD) during the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) selection process.

“It’s the U.S. government that’s proposing this procedure, and they’ve shown absolutely no interest in standing up for free expression rights through this entire process,” says Milton Mueller, author of a recently-published book on Internet governance. Mueller, who also said he expects some Middle Eastern countries to object to .gay, said the Obama administration is “completely disregarding” earlier compromises.

ICANN, the non-profit governing body that manages Internet addresses and overseen the process of adding new domain suffixes, will be meeting on March 13 and March 18, 2011. At this meeting, the US government is proposing that national governments involved in the ICANN process to assign TLDs be able to veto. If other national governments do not object to the veto, the TLD will not be created.

The U.S. government released a statement that stated that the veto power “has merit as it diminishes the potential for blocking of top level domain strings considered objectionable by governments. This type of blocking harms the architecture of the DNS and undermines the goal of universal resolvability (i.e., a single global Internet that facilitates the free flow of goods and services and freedom of expression).”

CNET explains that a better way to phrase the statement is “if less liberal governments adopt technical measures to prevent their citizens from connecting to .gay and .xxx Web sites, and dozens of nations surely will, that will lead to a more fragmented Internet.”

Currently, any individual can objection to the creation of a domain name on the grounds that the name may violate “norms of morality and public order.” This does not guarantee that the name will not be created, and in fact, many governments objected to the creation of the .xxx domain that was instituted in June 2010.

Mueller is Professor at Syracuse University School of Information Studies, where he teaches courses on information and communication policy and telecommunication management. His research focuses on property rights, institutions and global governance in communication and information industries. His earlier book Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace (MIT
Press, 2002) was the first book-length analysis of the political and economic forces leading to the creation of ICANN. Currently, he is doing research on the legal and regulatory responsibilities of Internet service providers, Internet Protocol addressing policy, the policy implications of Deep Packet Inspection technology and the security governance practices of network operators.

Mueller was one of the founders of the Internet Governance Project, an alliance of scholars in action around global Internet policy issues. As co-founder of the Noncommercial Users Constituency he has played a leading role in organizing and mobilizing public interest groups in ICANN. Mueller is on the Advisory Council of Public Interest Registry (.org).