Domain Expansion Fires Up

Friday, January 13, 2012 @ 02:01 PM gHale

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began accepting applications for new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) names in what the most significant expansion of the Domain Name System in the history of the Internet, said ICANN Chief Executive Rod Beckstrom.

ICANN, the nonprofit corporation that oversees the Internet’s Domain Name System, is moving ahead with the expansion despite concerns it poses a threat to organizations that could end up having to spend large amounts to defensively register domain names to protect trademarks and other intellectual property. Some legislators and other U.S. officials have called for a delay in the program to address these concerns.

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The new gTLD policy has been under development since 2005. Beckstrom said they have already considered all of the issues voiced in recent months and the program contains robust safeguards for intellectual property. Intellectual property issues were the No. 1 concern in the more than 2,000 public comments received during the development process, he said. Governmental and law enforcement issues were the second major concern.

Top Level Domains are the suffixes on URLs and email addresses that appear to the right of the final dot in the address. Generic TLDs are broad categories that service large communities, such as businesses for .com, public service groups for .org, educational organizations for .edu, and government for .gov. There currently are 22 gTLDs.

ICANN approved the expansion program in June. Objections to applications can go on file through Dec. 1, 2012, and the first new gTLDs could go online by January 2013 if there are no objections. There will be a non-refundable application fee of $185,000 for each new domain name.

Critics in the business community complain that the new gTLDs would open up a new landscape for cyber squatters and criminals, forcing legitimate owners of brands and trademarks to spend millions of dollars in defensive registration of names within the new domains. Several hearings on the program were held in the House of Representatives in December

The expansion will include the creation of new gTLDs in non-Latin scripts and alphabets, which ICANN hopes will unify the Internet, maintaining a single set of protocols and infrastructure that will keep it available to all people.

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