New registering program – Door opened to allow almost anything

For the London Free Press – August 8, 2011 – Read this on Canoe

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently approved a new program for registering generic top-level domain names (gTLDs). The door has opened to allow for almost anything.

The current most commonly recognized TLD is .com, followed by .org.

By 2013, Internet users can expect to see an influx of new internet domain extensions, such as .bank, or ones using major brand names.

The new program will open up the Internet domain market for businesses, organizations and individuals who wish to distinguish themselves or their products in the virtual world by having a personalized domain extension. ICANN anticipates many of the new domain extensions will be registered by cities and other geographic locations, by corporations and by special interest groups.

Those who wish to register a gTLD must submit an application to ICANN and pay a $185,000 application fee. ICANN will begin accepting applications between Jan. 12, 2012 and April 12, 2012. After the application deadline, ICANN will review each application and assess whether the proposed domain extension will be appropriate.

ICANN has introduced a list of conditions and qualifications that must be met by gTLD applicants to ensure they have sufficient financial, technical and operational capabilities to administrate and maintain their gTLD. For example, applicants are first required to undergo background screening of their general business diligence and criminal history to validate the legitimacy of their application and prevent cyber-fraud.

If an applicant passes the background screening, it will be subject to several assessments and evaluations to determine whether their proposed gTLD is feasible. This includes a review to determine whether it will create user confusion or too closely resembles another gTLD. There is a process to determine which applicant will prevail if there are multiple applicants for the same gTLD.

Administrating a gTLD involves a huge commitment and the responsibility to ensure security, ease of access and uninterrupted use. Unlike registering a website domain, such as google.com,a gTLD can accommodate thousands of different websites with the same domain extension.

ICANN’s decision to expand the gTLD registry presents some potential challenges and concerns that must be addressed. For example, gTLDs are border-less but the entities that own the rights to administer a gTLD are confined to the country in which they reside.

A Canadian entity might, for example, acquire the right to administer the domain extension . bank and restrict its use to legitimate banks. However, other countries with different laws about what constitutes a bank may also wish to use the . bank domain extension. Such a situation may give rise to conflicts and liabilities if not adequately prepared for in advance.

The expansion of the gTLD will certainly make the Internet a more interesting place to explore as businesses and individuals seek to distinguish themselves and their products or services online. More information about the ICAN gTLD application process is in its Applicant Guidebook on its website at icann.org.

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