Big Changes Coming to Top-Level Domain Name Options, Regulator Says

When the internet first began to creep into our lives, fragments of words. such as ‘.com’ or ‘co.uk’, may have seemed esoteric, but now they’re just as common as the brand names, magazines or weblogs they often accompany. However, as parts of the synergy of real life and technology go one way – some people now accept ‘lol’ as a verb in spoken conversation – top-level domains reportedly go another, as the international body regulating registration of generic top-level domains has been considering changes in its policies.

GTLDs include industry standards such as ‘.com’ and ‘.org’, and are closely related to country code top-level domains, such as ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.de’. These have often provided a source of income to some less technologically involved countries – such as Libya and Tonga – to sell space under their ccTLDs (‘.ly’ and ‘.to’).

However, it’s recently been revealed that companies looking to solidify their brand names on the information superhighway may not need to outsource their GTLD needs for long, as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has made progress in expanding the availability of GLTDs.

At their September 2010 meeting in Trondheim, Norway, ICANN’s board of directors “made considerable progress on the remaining issues regarding new generic top-level domains, and has asked staff to prepare additional working papers and a modified gTLD applicant guidebook for public review prior to the upcoming ICANN meeting in Cartagena in December 2010,” according to chairman Peter Dengate Thrush.
“The results represent a key milestone after years of work by the ICANN community as we prepare for community discussion and debate at our upcoming meeting in Colombia,” he said. The availability of new top-level domains could particularly benefit businesses looking for online branding, it’s been suggested.

For example, tech manufacturers Canon, who produce everything from cameras to printers, have reportedly already begun the process to acquire the top-level domain ‘.canon’. “Canon has made the official decision to begin necessary procedures to acquire ‘.canon’ upon the introduction of the new system,” the company said in a statement. ICANN will continue discussions on how to implement the changes till key concerns by the governing body has been adequately addressed, it said. These include security, stability and consumer protection, as the company hopes to stave off abuse of the new policies from the get-go. The moves come in a bid to “increase consumer choice and to promote competition,” according to Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s president and CEO.

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