ICANN Approves Expansion Of Domain Names

    June 26, 2008

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted to approve lifting restrictions on the classification of domain names, allowing for new customized Web addresses.

A unanimous vote by ICANN members at a public meeting in Paris paves the way for businesses and individuals to adopt domain names based on any combination of letters. Previously domain names had been limited by geography.

"This was an extremely successful meeting that will be remembered as a milestone in the development of the Internet," said Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN’s Board Chairman. "New generic Top Level Domains and Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) will open up the Internet and make it look as diverse as the people who use it."

ICANN also approved top – level domain names in scripts including Arabic, Cyrillic and other non-Latin scripts. It passed a resolution to eliminate domain tasting, a practice of using the grace periods to register domain names in bulk to see which ones are profitable.

The new domains could cost as much as $100,000 to register, and will require a large amount of recourses to maintain.

ICANN said it would begin accepting applications for new domains in April of 2009, with the first expected to be in operation by the end of the year. The system is open to anyone, but applicants have to have a "business plan and technical capacity" to be eligible.

Disputed domains will be auctioned to the highest bidder, but in some cases intellectual property law may help a business acquire a name. ICANN will be able to reject a domain on "morality or public order" grounds where it would then be decided by an international arbitration committee.

The largest top-level domain is .com, with 71 million addresses, followed by .de, the country code for Germany, with 11.2 million and .net, with 10.6 million. The fastest growing is .cn, for China, with 10.5 million addresses.