ICANN is considering retiring extensions that no longer stand for existing countries, like .SU (for the former Soviet Union). Good idea or disaster waiting to happen?
When IANA started allocating internet country codes in the mid 1980’s the world was a different place. At the time the decision on which country would get which 2-letter code was made by the person who is still considered the father of the Internet, Jon Postel.
Postel always tried to approach Internet naming issues with as much realism and common sense as possible. So he soon decided that it was not up to him to decide what constituted a country or territory. Rather, he chose an existing, and UN sanctioned, country code list: ISO 3166-1.
Today, ICANN is responsible for the IANA function which encompasses allocation of country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs). Although there have been a few exceptions, most notably Dot EU (for the European Union), IANA has by and large stuck to the non- controversial ISO system.
Now ICANN has decided it might be a good idea to clean up the country-code list, eliminating obsolete or unused codes such as: Dot SU (the former Soviet Union, since replaced by RU for Russia and 14 other ex-Soviet block countries), Dot GB (initially allocated to the United Kingdom but never used and replaced by Dot UK), Dot CS (for Czechoslovakia which then separated into the Czech Republic Dot CZ and Slovakia Dot SK), Dot YU (which stood for Yugoslavia before it broke into several parts) and a few more.
Raising this issue has kicked up a storm of political protest, notably from groups in the ex-Soviet Union who still use Dot SU and are even threatening legal action if ICANN dares to remove it from the Internet.
ICANN is giving itself until the end of January 2007 to decide. That's when a public call for comment currently open will end. ICANN will then issue a report.
What will they decided? Our bet: ICANN will walk away from this and leave things as they are!