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Amazon Rainforest nations and Amazon Inc. fight over domain name

The Government of 9 South American countries that have Amazon Rainforest in their borders and the online retail giant, Amazon.com, Inc. have been given a final deadline to reach an agreement over how to use, “.amazon” web address extension.

The nations that have Amazon Rainforest are Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana (an overseas territory of France). The basin is 2.7 million square miles while the Amazon covers 2.1 million square miles of it. If the Amazon rainforest was a country, it would rank 9th in size.

What’s the trouble?
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organisation responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces and numerical spaces of the Internet, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation, had earlier decided to expand its list of generic top-level domains (gTLD) – the bit that comes after the dot in a web address.

The new rules allowed companies to apply for brand new extensions, offering internet users and businesses more flexibility to customize their website name and addresses. With these new rules, Amazon.com, Inc. decided to use “.amazon” as domain name.

However, the 9 South American countries have objected to retail giant using the new, “.amazon” domain name. These South American nations, who are members of Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) believe that relinquishing the domain exclusively to retail giant could impact on matters of their sovereignty.

The Proposal
The Diplomats of Amazon Rainforest nations have said that they are comfortable with online retail giant using the domain, “.amazon”, but have demanded a shared governance of it.

According to their proposals, Amazon would be immediately allowed to use the domains which are relevant to its commercial interests such as “books.amazon” or “kindle.amazon”

But each country would be allowed to use domains which relate to their cultural heritage. In case, all Amazon Rainforest nations decide to come together to promote tourism in their region, they will be allowed to use “tourism.amazon”.

However, Amazon.com, Inc. has rejected the proposal and has proposed that “.amazon” extension should be used in conjunction with 2 letters representing each country – br.amazon for Brazil.

What Amazon.com, Inc. has to say
The Vice President of Public Policy – Brian Huseman, said, “We will not use the TLDs in a confusing manner”.

The online retail company has consented to work with Governments to identify and block the use of names that touch national sensitivities and has pledged to support a new top-level domain using local terms such as “.amazonia” and “.amazonas”.

Besides, it had also tried to persuade the Amazon Rainforest nations by promising them U.S. $ 5 million (£3.8 million) worth of free Kindle e-readers and hosting services, which was turned down by Amazon rainforest countries.

What Amazon Rainforest Nations want?
In a letter sent to ICANN in March, 2019, the Ecuadorian Ambassador to the U.S. – Francisco Carrión, said, “We are not looking for financial compensation. Nor are we after ex-gratia concessions to use one or a few second-level domains. It is a matter of sovereignty for many of us, and the offer to share the TLDs with the company Amazon Inc. is already a compromise.”

What happens next…
If both the parties fail to reach an agreement, Amazon.com, Inc. will have two weeks to argue its case again before ICANN makes up its mind.

ICANN is under pressure to resist the push of Governments concerning geographic domain names. The case is also challenging the independence of ICANN.

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