The .end of the net as we know it?


26 Jun 2008

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While there are many TLDs (top-level domain) out there to describe the location, purpose and content of a website, most of us only ever use a handful including .com, .net, .ie or .org. However, this looks set to change.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organisation that controls what kind of TLDs can be used, will today vote on whether or not this restricted list will be expanded.

Reports suggest ICANN will vote in favour of loosening this restriction, opening up the net to new domains along the lines of .bbc, .xxx or .ibm, or even basic descriptive ones like .news or .food.

While there are fears of cybersquatting with the myriad TLDs out there for the taking, discouragement of this practice will be in the form of cost, according to zdnet.com, because these domains will be priced between US$100,000 and US$500,000 each.

There had been much debate in the past about whether or not to allow TLDs like .sex, .xxx or .adult, which were all declined by ICANN because of the US Communications Decency Act 1996.

While this law was brought in to regulate pornographic content on the web, it seems counter-intuitive to disallow TLDs like .xxx as this would flag sites containing adult content and so make it easier to block access to minors.

It would also make it easier for those on the web inclined to find what they want.

If ICANN approves this move, any suffix will be allowed in a domain name. This will then open the web up to non-Roman alphabet TLDs for those using characters from Mandarin or Arabic, who of course account for a huge portion of the world’s internet traffic.

Right, I’m off to get a ‘.yay’.

By Marie Boran