TUC heading into cyberspace with .union

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which represents unions worldwide, has applied to the Internet...

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which represents unions worldwide, has applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) for a ".union" Internet address.

Joy Macknight The new top-level domain will allow unions to have a distinct presence on the Internet, and sit alongside the present three .com, .org and .net.

The UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) supported the call, which means that unions in the UK could soon be ending their e-mail and Web addresses .union.

John Monks, general secretary of the TUC, said, "Not only would [the new domain name] enable trade union Internet users to feel part of the world family of unions, but it would also make it easier for non-members to use the Internet and find out more about trade union activities and issues."

Duncan Preutt, information and IT co-ordinator at the Brussels-based ICFTU told Computer Weekly, "Right now we don't know how a decision will be taken on what is obviously a popular proposal. Icann has informed applicants that financial, technical and legal considerations will be taken into account, as well as the comments made via their public forums.

"We have no way of telling how these factors are weighted, but we have entered into the Icann process in good faith. In Icann's early statements about this process, it said it wanted proposals to be diverse, and specifically asked for non-commercial applications, for restricted top-level domain (TLD) applications. In the case of restricted TLDs, it said there would be ample evidence that those affected would participate in the policy formulation process for the TLD. Bearing this in mind, the ICFTU's .union proposal seems to be a perfect fit.

"At present, there are about 70 public expressions of support for .union in the Icann public forum. Supporters range from big representative national union organisations (such as the TUC and the Italian CISL), international trade union organisations, such as the International Transport Workers' Federation, all the way down to rank-and-file union organisers and members all around the globe.

"If the application is rejected, we would be very surprised, given the level of support for this, and we would certainly expect a very full set of reasons as to why not.

Preutt said the $50,000 application fee was high and had prevented many interesting proposals from non-commercial players. He also criticised Icann for its "unmercifully short" timetable for applications.

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