Since 1998, the French NIC had a very restrictive registration policy for the .fr domain, (and for the .re - Reunion Island - since 2001). On May 11, its new policy went into effect, and opened the .fr and .re domains up. According to the French Nic, more than 50,000 requests were made in the first three weeks [a success if you look at the figures, but now wait for the number of disputes!].
Since .fr policy changed, local authorities and governments are furious: Everyone is now free to register their name! And there are 36,778 cities in France (yes 36,778, due to historical reasons!), 2,400 communities of municipalites, 100 departments and 26 regions (who said French administration is complex?).
Several French Senators wrote a statute proposal to protect the local bodies names. This text has been discussed and modified by a Senate Committee (see the 50 pages report), and should be discussed in chamber on June 22.
Its first article prevents anyone from registering the local bodies names (except with permission). The second article prevents anyone from registering the names of the Parliament assemblies. The third one forbids the registration of the names of the persons holding elective office. Registrars have the duty to enforce all these rules, which apply to the national domain (no definition is given: .fr only, or both .fr and .re?).
The fourth article adds that registration in the national domain, or by a resident in France, shall not violate the rights local bodies have on their names, or harm their image or reputation.
If this text is enacted, it would be a new example of legislation applying to the domain name system, after the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 and the European Community Regulation laying down public policy rules concerning the implementation and functions of the .eu TLD and the principles governing registration.
[UPDATE: also published on ICANNwatch]