ICANN votes for huge domain expansion as users shrug

Is it all too late to matter?

The age of .com has been put on notice. After years of wrangling, Internet governing body ICANN has finally approved a dramatic expansion of top-level domain suffixes from the current 22 commonly used to just about anything an applicant can think of.

After delays and some controversy about the benefits of such a huge expansion, the vote ICANN's board of directors meeting in Singapore was clear cut, with 13 voting in favour, one against, and two abstaining.

"Today's decision will usher in a new Internet age," said Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN's board of directors, with a rhetorical flourish. "We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration."

"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination," ehoed his colleague, Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of ICANN. "Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind," he said.

The organisation will now devote its time to explaining what the change means to Internet users with applications for the new generic top-level domains (or 'gTLDs') opening on 12 January next year.

With the world still working mainly through.com and country domains such as .co.uk, bolstered by organisational domains such as .gov and .edu, the agreed change looks radical.

In the new system, the part of the address that would be occupied by .com, or .co.uk will now be open, initially, to any one of hundreds of possibilities, a useful example list of which can be found here. Longer term, this will expand severalfold, at each stage taking into account the rights of band name holders.

Huge questions remain. The rules over what is possible, who will be able to register and with what restrictions could lead to confusion. Thus far, consumers and even many businesses know almost nothing about the change.

There is also an issue of cost with the free-market registration services that stand to gain happy, while some in the business world less so. Many businesses will have to register expensive domains simply to protect their brands as they did in the past during completely useless domain expansions such as the one that brought suffixes such as.info and .eu into existence.

Others fret over the cybercrime possibilities, particularly the way a rush of new domains might be used to bamboozle a confused public that has has just got its head around the original domain structure.

Perhaps the most fundamental question of all is whether any of this matters in the first place. Internet users increasingly access the web using search engines straight from the address bar of browsers, via services such as Google and Microsoft and using mobile computers for which domains were never designed.

Expanding gTLDs could turn out to be a reform that has happened a decade late.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetPersonal TechInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?