The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is working through the process of creating new Internet domains. Within as short a period as one year, Internet sites ending in .com, .org, and .net may be accompanied by sites ending in .app, .mail, and .movie.
These so-called Top-Level Domains (TLDs) have long been closed to expansion. Until now, ICANN has allowed only a small set of common TLDs (.com, .org, etc) as well as a host of country code domains, such as .it for Italy. ICANN announced in January 2012 that it would begin accepting applications for new TLDs. Over 2000 proposals were submitted for a variety of TLDs ranging from .aaa to .zulu. This includes 116 applications for international TLDs with non-Roman letters, which will be permitted, in order to keep the Internet from becoming fragmented by countries establishing their own domain systems.
The applicants included Internet heavy-weights Amazon (.book, .buy, .circle), Google (.google, .android), and Microsoft (.bing, .office). A company that owns its own TLD has complete control of the activity under that sector of the Internet. The owner can choose whether to allow access to web sites or e-mail addresses under that domain to the public, or it can close access from anyone external to the owner. A closed TLD would be free from spam, phishing, malware, and all the other unscrupulous activity. For example, an email from firstname.lastname@example.org would be trustworthy, as the .microsoft TLD would only give out e-mail addresses to people within the Microsoft corporation.
A point of uncertainty in ICANN’s process is how to deal with conflicting applications. When several organizations file applications for the same TLD, who should receive it? .app has 12 applicants, including Amazon and Apple. ICANN vets organizations based on their ability to run and operate a TLD, but this won’t solve the conflicts between the major players. It is predicted that some applicants will give up claims to disputed TLDs in exchange for rights to others. Smaller applicants might receive a payout to drop their claim. The last option, which ICANN wishes to avoid, is to hold an auction.
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Summary by: Ramin Wright