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Icann Unveils Plans for Unlimited Domain Extensions

30 June 2008

It looks as though we are living the final days of an era when Web sites must comply with a rigid address system offering only a limited number of extensions like ".com," ".org" and ".co.uk."

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will begin taking applications next year for an array of new domain name strings without creative limits (barring the offensive, of course).

Imagine operating a Web site whose address ends with ".gambling" or ".london" or ".poker," or even one that matches the name of your company, like ".google" or ".party" or ".888."

Soon, you can ask Icann for permission.

Calling it the "biggest expansion to Internet in 40 years," the company unveiled its plan at a meeting in Paris Thursday.

"The board accepted a recommendation from its global stakeholders that it is possible to implement many new names to the Internet, paving the way for an expansion of domain name choice and opportunity," said Paul Twomey, president and chief executive of Icann.

"The potential here is huge. It represents a whole new way for people to express themselves on the Net," Mr. Twomey added. "It's a massive increase in the 'real estate' of the Internet."

The expectation is that companies and organizations will take domain names that reflect the nature of their content and services or that are potentially most marketable. Targeted community strings are anticipated, such as ".travel" (already existent) for companies that offer travel services and ".nyc" for companies focused in New York City.

Icann has not yet finalized its plan for unloading the new real estate, but it apparently favors an application-based system.

The organization wants to publish the final version of its plan at the beginning of 2009 and to start accepting applications in the second quarter.

"There will be a limited application period where any established entity from anywhere in the world can submit an application that will go through an evaluation process," the company expressed in a prepared statement. "There will be additional rounds relatively soon after the close of the first application round."

Domains that happen to match trademarks will not be automatically reserved, but there will be an objection-based mechanism for trademark owners where arguments for protection will be considered.

At least one Icann board member expressed concern that the proposed system might make it easy for governments to censor certain classes of Web sites. Gambling and pornography come quickly to mind.

"If this is broadly implemented, this recommendation would allow for any government to effectively veto a string that makes it uncomfortable," Susan Crawford, a board member who is a professor at Yale University, told The Associated Press.

Icann will ultimately receive some sort of fee for evaluating applications and delivering domain names. The fee will likely be steep enough to deter cybersquatting.

Meanwhile, another broad expansion of the Internet could be just a little further down the road. Icann also revealed Thursday that it is considering allowing the use of non-Roman characters in Internet addresses, meaning scripts from languages like Japanese and Arabic would become valid.

Icann Unveils Plans for Unlimited Domain Extensions is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com