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ICANN to Relax Web Domain Rules June 26, 2008

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in News.
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Brace yourself for an Internet land grab! Almost any word in any language could soon become a domain name extension.

In one of the biggest shakeups in Web history, ICANN, the group charged with overseeing the development of the Internet has voted to relax two key domain restrictions. One allows domains that don’t use Latin character, the other allows domains to use extended letter or number combinations.

This means Web sites will be able to use easier-to-remember suffixes. Apart from the .com, .net or .org, the 1.3 billion web users will be able to acquire generic addresses by lodging common words such as .love, .hate or .city, .kids, .shop, .sex or proper names. The exceptions would be trademarked domains, such as .cnn or .microsoft.

The decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – also known by its acronym ICANN – could spark a virtual domain name gold rush to rival the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. Registration details and fees have not been announced. Companies and individuals will be able to apply for new domains in the first quarter of 2009.

To avoid cyber-squatting, those who register a new extension will have to prove they have a viable reason for it. Some cities or regions have been bending the rules to get the domain they want. Los Angeles has for example signed a deal with Laos to use its .la domain.

Currently all Web addresses fall under one of some 250 top-level domain names: .country or .territory domains, and generic ones such as .com, .net and .org, .gov, and .edu. With the stock of available web addresses under the current IPv4 protocol set to run out by 2011, ICANN has been under pressure to find a solution for burgeoning demand.

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