Usually, the news from ICANN involves the expansion of the TLD network. So it may come as a surprise to hear that ICANN may be retiring some of the TLDs in the near future.
Currently, there are over 249 geographical areas, territories, and countries which are assigned Alpha-2 codes in the ISO 3166. The ISO 3166 is a list of country codes that is changed frequently. Alpha-2 codes are assigned to geographical areas, territories, and countries and are added to the ISO 3166. Once added to the list, a country-code top-level domain name (ccTLD) associated with that Alpha-2 code is added to the ICANN Root Zone. The ICANN Root Zone is the delegation of TLD names and the associated list of root servers.
The Alpha-2 codes generally correspond to the ccTLDs such as ‘.au’ for Australia and the ‘.fr’ for France. The United Kingdom has officially been assigned the ‘.gb’ code rather than UK based on its official name. Although the ‘.uk’ ccTLD is reserved because of a request by the UK government.
As international borders change many of the Alpha-2 codes come into dispute. Since the ISO 3166 is dynamic, the Alpha-2 codes on the list are removed or changed regularly. However, the corresponding ccTLD from the Root Zone has no formal policy for removal or update once the Alpha-2 code is removed or changed in the ISO 3166.
ICANN has decided to develop a policy to retire the ccTLDs that are no longer relevant entries in the ISO 3166.
ICANN is currently in the process of developing:
- Retirement plans for the ccTLDs
- Description of the process of retirement
- Duration of the process
- A description of when the process is initiated
- When the process is closed
- Oversight of the process
This new development is interesting because of the explosion of generic TLDs. There are currently more than 1500 in existence including those for country codes, cities, and regions. The opportunity to remove the ccTLDs which are no longer relevant will help clean things up and reduce fraud.
ICANN is inviting responses to their proposal through their portal through 10 July 2020.