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Would you pay $100 for a can of tomato sauce?

The dubious anniversary of the .PR domain.

Last week, the "dot PR" owners announced the celebration of 30 years of service of the .PR ccTLD in Puerto Rico. The note went unnoticed locally. Few people know what the .PR ccTLD is and the disastrous impact that its administration has had in Puerto Rico. In a way, it was a "digital identity" granted to Puerto Rico that ended up in private hands at prices 100 times higher than the standard worldwide.

It is the type of matter that if certain groups understood, they would be going postal on those responsible for the theft of funds to the University of Puerto Rico and the loss of cultural recognition in the digital world. Unfortunately, the level of digital understanding in our elected leaders is extremely limited, resulting in such fiascos.

This essay will not be pleasing to some, but given the bold statements published in Yahoo Finance, I have to raise my voice and present the other side of the story.

What is a .PR?

First of all, let's clarify what a ccTLD is. It is an extension of domain that is assigned to each country, roughly, the digital address of that country. Here are three examples:

    Puerto Rico – .pr
    Chile – .cl
    Spain – .es 

Usually, if we search for local business addresses in various countries, there are addresses using the extension of that region. In Chile, looking for "tourism in Chile" on Google, we see among the results:

    guiaturismochile.cl
    tinycabin.cl
    viajala.cl 

The .cl is the extension of Chile, a way to group and meet local businesses that run a web page in the region. It is a way of having a local identity that facilitates providing more relevant regional results, which in turn Google then passes to its users.

The .PR domain was an asset granted to us as a "country". A recognition that did not fall within our colonial limitations. An identity of our own that we had the opportunity to develop to support greater local digital economic activity. Unfortunately, there was no digital leadership that understood the potential of .PR.

The Heist

The ccTLDs are always made up of a two-letter code that is assigned to each country in accordance with ISO-3166 of 1974. The .PR was assigned to Puerto Rico in 1989. According to the "WayBack Archive", in February 2002, the .PR was assigned to the University of Puerto Rico and was administered by Dr. Oscar Moreno.

During 2000-2004 it is important to highlight that ccTLDs were not so popular. This is why perhaps nobody paid much attention when suddenly in 2004 Gauss Laboratory appears as a Sponsoring Organization with the University of Puerto Rico.

Then it went unnoticed when in 2007 the University of Puerto Rico disappeared as a Sponsoring Organization. Officially, the .PR was then owned by Gauss Research Laboratory.

Far from a strategy to promote this asset and empower local entrepreneurs to make the most of it, Gauss Research Labs decided to sell .PR domains for $1,000 each, when in any other country the average cost of a ccTLD is $ 25. Do you know that we currently have the most expensive ccTLD in the world?

In the press release, Dr. Moreno's son and current CEO of the .PR says, and I quote:

"We are pleased to reach the milestone of 30 years of providing internet addresses that represent both the Puerto Rican people and public relations practitioners to the world. We are very proud of this achievement, which underscores our technology capabilities and our ability to contribute to the betterment of Puerto Rico .PR will always be a key partner in Puerto Rico's future."

Out of respect for my readers, I'm holding back the first thought that comes to mind when I read such deception. The legacy of these people to the digital development of Puerto Rico is at best, nil. At worst, a malicious propellant for small and medium businesses to register names with a "PR" before .COM.

The left column is our reality, the right column is how it should have been had the .PR been administered correctly.
ClasifiadosPR.com                                           Clasificados.pr
FirstBankPR.com                                              FirstBank.pr | FB.pr
CrimPR.net                                                       Crim.pr
LibertyPR.com                                                  Liberty.pr
ITgroupPR.com                                                ITgroup.pr
MendezCoPR.com                                           Mendez.pr
HotelOKpr.com                                                 HotelOK.pr
Acampapr.com                                                 Acampa.pr
SteelandPipesPR.com                                    SteelandPipes.PR
Tormenteraspr.com                                         Tormenteras.PR
AnimalEmergencyClinicPR.com                     AnimalEmergencyClinic.PR

We have businesses in all types of industry that instead of using a .PR they use PR.COM because nobody is going to pay $ 1,000 annually for something that should not be worth more than $ 100 at most. I have never seen a sign of a PyMe announcing its website with a .pr

The press release goes further:

"Today, .PR is home to thousands of sites, including leading Puerto Rican firms such as www.ElNuevoDia.pr, local sites for global brands like www.lincoln.com.pr,  and public relations practices like www.clarity.pr."

This is false. ElNuevoDia.PR redirects to ElNuevoDia.com, therefore, the home page is ElNuevoDia.com. GFR does not promote ElNuevoDia.PR in its print version, they promote ElNuevoDia.com. The name with the .pr has no functionality. The only reason they keep ElNuevoDia.pr is to prevent another person from buying it.

Frankly, I don't know what are the thousands of web pages that are based on .PR but it would be nice to see that list. Among the most recent I've seen active, are:

    Status.PR
    Recovery.PR
    PRITS.PR

Do you notice the pattern? They are all Government websites. The Government uses .PR extensions because, as far as I know, they offer them for free. However, it costs the ordinary citizen $ 1,000 to register a .PR.

No web page developer in Puerto Rico offers his client to sell him a .PR. I can say with certainty that there are HUNDREDS of thousands of local businesses that do not have a .PR because they will not pay $ 1,000 annually in the same way that they would not pay $ 100 for a can of tomato sauce.

Conclusion

With so many identity issues that we have as Island, Country, Territory, Colony or whatever you want to call it, it is ironic that at the digital level we had equal treatment with any other country in the world and we did not know how to take advantage of it.

Dr. Oscar Moreno died of cancer a few years ago, the UPR lawsuit went nowhere. The administrators who inherited the dot PR now carry out semi-philanthropic efforts to support the technological ecosystem. Frankly, the damage has already been done and the dot PR extension lost its relevance. We are the only jurisdiction in the world that did not take advantage of the reason why a ccTLD was granted.

The point of this digital anecdote is twofold. First, setting the record straight on the dot PR story. Second, demonstrate how our government's failure to provide functional platforms on which we can develop better technologies and services has a profound impact on the advances of digitization. In this case, it represented the loss of a digital identity for every citizen and entrepreneur who now resort to registering abcPR.com instead of abc.PR, as is the norm in countries all over the world.

*The author served as Chief Information Officer during the García Padilla Administration. Taken from his blog.


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