Generic top-level domains will divide the internet, warns IIA CEO

7 Mar 2013

IIA chief executive Joan Mulvihill

The advent of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .blog or .hair will only facilitate the division of the internet into territories, the Irish Internet Association has warned and has written to ICANN voicing its objection.

In June last year, ICANN produced a list of generic top-level domain names. The first the new gTLDs will be delegated in the coming weeks.

The deadline for submissions on the gTLD process is midnight tonight (7 March).

In its submission to ICANN, the IIA said the registration of certain generic domains by large corporations compromises the very essence of the internet as an open, democratic and free space for users.

IIA CEO Joan Mulvihill said the application to ICANN from a number of large organisations seeking to close off common words for use by one company is anti-competitive and stifles innovation.

She said it will divide up the internet into zones whereby consumers will be mistakenly led to believe they are searching a global marketplace when in fact they are likely to be searching only a fragment owned by a corporation.

“For example, if Google got the gTLD ‘.blog’ or if  Symantec get ‘.antivirus’ or if L’Oreal got ‘.hair’ it distorts the meaning of the internet for many people.

“Everything that is good about the internet will be gone. For example, the whole point of a blog is freedom to publish, but if the domain .blog is owned by one entity it distorts the picture,” Mulvihill said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years