The Amazon domain battle starts with one question:
Did you know the internet is managed by a non-profit called ICANN?
This agency handles all of the domain names on the internet. It was initially overseen by the U.S. government.
On October 1, 2016, the contract between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce ended, formally transitioning the function of domain handling to the global multi-stakeholder community.
Why is that important?
It means that the Internet has officially dropped its U.S citizenship. Our collective information-infant is mobile. Chest puffed, chin out, she struts irreverently all over the globe now.
Sometime in the coming weeks, ICANN will be reaching a decision on the landmark case as to whether or not the Amazon corporation has any right to use the .amazon domain name.
Setting the Stage for the Amazon Domain Battle
But let’s rewind for a second.
The year was 2013, the internet belonged to Obama, the NBA championship belonged to the Miami Heat, and the Brazilian government was cooking up a plan to bring sovereignty over the internet to all the citizens of the globe.
Journalist Edward Snowden had just informed then-president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff that the Americans had been spying on her cellphone.
Brazil is reported to have reacted by ordering diplomats to hurt U.S. interests however they could.
The internet was an easy target.
The stage was set for an epic fight between an online bookseller that would blossom into the most powerful multinational corporation in history and a Latino ribcage of governments protecting the most important treasure in the world – the Amazon Rainforest.
Latin America Addresses Jeff Bezos
Round 1 – Winner: Latin American countries
As luck would have it, Amazon.com, Inc was among the 1,500+ corporations registering a custom name with the ICANN as a “Top Level Domain.” So were Google, Ferrari, and Heinz. People had high expectations for these domain names at the time.
So why is it that you can find sites called .google, .ferrari, and .heinz, but not .amazon?
The answer is the ICANN’s most difficult case of the decade. It boils down to this:
Amazon.com, Inc claims that it would not be harmful to the Amazonia region if it were allowed to use the .amazon domain. The governments of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and five other LATAM countries disagree.
Here’s how the timeline played out:
- 2012: Amazon.com, Inc submits an application
- July 2013: The Amazonian countries on the ICANN board advise the board not to proceed with the Amazon corporation’s request
- May 14, 2014: The ICANN Board accepts Amazonia’s veto
The Real Consequences of the Amazon Domain Battle
Round 2 – Winner: Latin American countries
It is 2014 and the Amazon corporation now finds itself embroiled in an unanticipated conflict. It responds by submitting a proposal that it claims would benefit both parties.
This offer is rejected by the LATAM countries.
In 2016, Amazon.com, Inc files an Independent Review Process recommending that the folks at ICANN change their previous decision. The appeal succeeds a year later. This moment was a turning point in the saga. From 2016 onward, Amazon.amazon had a fighting chance.
But what is this conflict really about?
It is important to take a step back and realize that the boxing match we are spectators to is not about a single domain name, but rather the sovereignty of the internet. If you look at it through this wide-angle lens, the coalition of South American emerging markets takes the belt home.
In 2016, the ICANN severs ties with the United States government. Although it remains headquartered in California, it is officially considered an extra-governmental authority.
- October 1, 2016: ICANN cuts ties with United States government following international pressure
- 2016: Amazon.com, Inc files an Independent Review
- 2017: Amazon.com, Inc appeal is approved
Crunch Time – ICANN Has Had Enough
Round 3 – Winner: Amazon corporation
It is very possible you will soon see books.amazon and alexa.amazon in your web travels.
The current state of the case is that the ICANN Board has postponed its responsibility for years by trying to get Bezos to sit with South American heads of state. It is a meeting that should be simple to execute in theory but has proven elusive.
The Board has essentially directed Bezos to propose value to the countries in the Amazonian region. If either the LATAM Coalition or the Board finds that these Public Interest Commitments (PICs) are worthy, then Amazon.com, Inc will receive the right to use their namesake.
- October 25, 2018: The South American coalition invites Bezos to a negotiation
- November 22, 2018: The South American coalition rescinds an invitation for unknown reasons
- November 23, 2018: The Amazon corporation submits the PICs
- May 2019: The ICANN Board, which has postponed making a ruling in favor of trying to force the two parties to come to their own compromise, is officially leaning toward accepting the provisional use of the domain in favor of Amazon.com, Inc
Warning! Opinions lie ahead!
Reasons Amazon.com, Inc Should Get the Domain
I have met Amazon workers. You probably have, too, because Amazon hires a lot of people. Despite everything that can be said against them, it is an established fact that they pay their workers a generous minimum wage. Why shouldn’t they? They are valued at $1 trillion.
An investment in LATAM by the Amazon corporation could be a huge boon to the emerging economies of the region.
If any company is going to take over the world, I am glad it is a company named after the lungs of planet earth.
Reasons LATAM Emerging Countries Should Safeguard the Domain
The mighty Amazon jungle is the reason we are all alive. Simply put, we are all spacemen and our replenishable oxygen tank must be protected. The question is, does it need protecting from the likes of Amazon.com, Inc?
An Anecdote as an Answer:
As Brad Stone writes in his book, “The Everything Store,” Amazon was initially called “Cadabra, Inc.” While he still had hair on his head, Jeff and his then-wife MacKenzie also registered a bunch of other names like Relentless.com.
Pragmatic Bezos reportedly settled on Amazon for the very simple reason that it was close to the beginning of the alphabet — internet databases were still alphabetical in the 90s.
However, Stone writes that Bezos considered the might of the Amazon River in his nominative process:
“This is not only the largest river in the world; it’s many times larger than the next biggest river. It blows all other rivers away.”
The funny thing about powerful rivers though, they don’t actually destroy rival rivers. They don’t even have rival rivers.
Sustainable Businesses and Emerging Market Growth in LATAM
From the perspective of a person or group looking to invest in the South American emerging market, this showdown should be a sign of political cohesion in the interests of the region and a marker of mighty kickbacks to come from a CEO with a Spanish last name.
Tell the Colibri Content specialists how we can help you establish your name in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world. We’re your go-to resource for anything related to the emerging markets of LATAM. If you don’t believe us, take a stroll through our blog.