The Children’s Charities Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS) has expressed concerns that ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), is not keeping the internet safe and secure for children. A new domain, .kids, can be bought by anybody wishing to set up a new website, without any relevant safeguarding checks taking place – even those with criminal convictions or child sex offenders can purchase this domain suffix.
In a correspondence with the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, the Home Secretary and Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP the Secretary of State responsible for the Internet. CHIS notes, Inter alia, ICANN is responsible for “keeping the internet secure” but in an attached briefing warns that ICANN has definitely not been keeping the internet secure for children. On the contrary ICANN shows complete indifference towards children’s safety. This has led to real dangers that ICANN could have prevented or mitigated.
CHIS is asking ICANN to take preventative measures in safeguarding website domains, and is also asking the government to put pressure on ICANN to address this oversight (other domain names, such as .pharmacy or .insurance are only distributed to those organisations passing a series of stringent tests to ensure they are fit and proper to act in these fields of work).
The letter adds,
“Who is going to win the global contract to run this domain in the English language has still not been decided. Amazon and Google are both in contention. However, thanks to ICANN’s obscure processes we only recently discovered that ICANN has in fact already let .kids in the Russian language but they made no stipulations to ensure known paedophiles would not be able to buy or operate a child focused website within the .kids domain. Neither did they make any stipulations forbidding known paedophiles from working for a company or organization that operated such a site.
Obviously there is a risk this could be repeated when .kids in English is finally decided and while I am sure both Google and Amazon will choose to do the right thing, whichever one is the eventual winner of the contract, the point is matters of this kind should never have been left as an option. By not making such elementary child protection practice compulsory ICANN was grossly negligent and if ICANN does not change its approach it could happen again with other child focused domains should there be any additional ones in the future.”
Read more on the correspondence with the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State responsible for the Internet below.