You Don't Need Us To .tel You This Isn't A Good Idea
from the fun-with-TLDs dept
We’d previously discussed the .tel domain, at least in terms of its sheer ridiculousness. The premise of this latest TLD is that people and companies can use it to put their contact information online. Yes, you read that correctly — they expect people to pay up for new domains to put their phone number and email address and other contact info online. The promised twist is that a .tel domain “encodes this information into the DNS system.” Instead of getting a standard web site when people visit a .tel site, they’ll get one that shows contact info. Really groundbreaking stuff, isn’t it? The .tel folks also say that certain directory services will be able to access this info.
The mainstream press is doing its typical job of buying into the TLD registrar’s claims, without stopping to ask a couple of questions. First, why is something like this at all necessary? Second, is it really a good thing to inject people’s contact information into the DNS system? DNS records have long been a favorite haunt for spammers to hunt down email addresses. Now, encouraging people to put their email addresses, IM contacts, phone numbers and physical addresses online, where they can be easily harvested, really doesn’t seem like a great idea. Telnic, the company behind .tel, says it’s got ways for individuals to control who can see their information (they have a video about the controls), but the system is overly complex and convoluted. In a nutshell, if you want to protect your info, your friends and contacts have to send you “friend requests”, which you then need to approve if you want them to see your information. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the same thing you’ve done in all the free social-networking and contact-management sites you’ve already joined, and where your contact info already lives. Furthermore, if somebody is your friend, isn’t it more than likely they already have your contact info? Keeping all the contact info .tel aggregates openly available really doesn’t seem like a good idea for individuals; enacting the privacy controls reinforces the utter pointlessness of .tel over already available, free, services. But who cares when the registrar is collecting all those wonderful fees?