The .travel TLD and the New.net browser plugin - Some considerations regarding conflicts between colliding versions of .travel
The .travel sponsored TLD application by Tralliance Corporation to ICANN raises the question of the conflict with pre existing .travel domains in other non ICANN registries. The proposed .travel TLD conflicts with both the www.new.net .travel registry and the www.Name-Space.com .travel registry recognized by the New root now called the Public Root ( www.public-root.com ). We will focus on the www.new.net registry because of the very significant number of Internet users that can view New.net domains. The figure provided by New.net is "174,661,619 New.net enabled Internet users worldwide". The specifics on how this figure was arrived at and attestation provided by Price Waterhouse Coopers can be found on the www.new.net website. This figure should be compared with the estimate of 143,000,000 Internet users in the United States.
The approval of .travel by ICANN together with the millions of New.net enabled users begs the question: If there are two versions of the same Example.Travel domain one registered with the ICANN approved registry and one registered with the New.net registry which version will a New.net enabled user see when they type http://Example.Travel in their browser? If the user is New.net enabled because the user is using a New.net enabled ISP this will of course depend on how the ISP has configured the DNS; consequently we will only consider the behavior for those users who are:
1) using the New.net plugin and
2) where the computer is configured via the DNS to resolve .travel to a registry other than New.net
This can actually be tested right now by installing the New.net plugin on a computer whose DNS is configured to resolve .travel to the registry www.Name-Space.com In our test the name-space version of .travel was in effect used as a stand in for the proposed ICANN version of .travel. We found that the presence of the New.net plugin overrode the .travel resolution present in the DNS and resolved to the New.net version of colliding domain. The method we used for this test is explained below.
We used a computer running Microsoft Windows 98. Initially the computers DNS were configured to resolve using the ICANN root via the standard ISP connection. This computer was not running any browser plugin such as the New.net plugin or the Namesocket plugin (provided by the new root). We completed our test with the following eight steps.
The first step is to configure the name servers on the computer to use the public root DNS:
The second step was to choose a domain where there is a collision between the Name-Space registry, and New net registry. We selected hotels.travel. The Name-Space version resolves to Hotels.Travel.Xs2.net (Name-Space domains can be reached in the ICANN root by adding Xs2.net) while the New.net version resolves to Hotels.Travel.New.net (New.net domains can be reached in the ICANN root by adding .New.net)
The fifth step was to enter http://Hotels.Travel into the browser. We reached the same site as Hotels.Travel.New.net. This indicated that the New.net plugin is correctly resolving the new .net domains but more significantly we found that the presence of the New.net plugin overrode the .travel resolution present in the DNS and resolved to the New.net version of colliding domain. We also found that non colliding domains in the new root such as The.Earth and the regular ICANN TLDs continued to work fine.
The seventh step was to enter http://Hotels.Travel into the browser. We reached the same site as Hotels.Travel.Xs2.net This indicated that the New.net plugin was uninstalled correctly and that the name-space domain is resolving correctly in the new root.
The final step was to restore the DNS settings to the original settings as per the initial ISP connection to the Internet returning the computer to the ICANN root.
We must conclude that the approval of the .travel TLD by ICANN without an agreement with New.net, in order to avoid colliding versions of .travel domains, has the potential to cause some very serious conflicts due to the TLD collisions. The magnitude of this TLD collision is potentially very serious because of the millions of New.net enabled users and is very different from previous situations involving "alternate roots" such as .biz. Furthermore any potential registrant in the ICANN .travel TLD should be made aware of these issues so that they can take any appropriate measures they deem necessary. These conclusions will of course also apply to any proposed ICANN TLD that conflicts with a New.net TLD.
Important Disclosure regarding our relationship with New.net
We must disclose that we do own New.net domains. Any interested parties should independently investigate for themselves the questions raised by this article and must not rely on this article for any purpose whatsoever without their own independent verification.