New Domain Names Face Government Objections

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Over 240 companies and organizations looking to register new top level domain names have faced early objections from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). The committee represents around 50 of the world’s governments and works with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on issues of public policy, national laws and international agreements.

A top level domain (TLD) is the suffix that is attached to web addresses such as ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’. ICANN has been taking applications for the registration of new TLDs with the intention of rolling them out next year. Such applications cost £116,300 and have been incredibly popular with both companies and organizations eager to secure desirable names. However, many have faced warnings from the GAC based on various objections.

One objection is based on competition between firms. For example, Symatec Corporation has applied to register ‘.antivirus’. This may be seen to give Symatec an unfair advantage over competing companies. Amazon has also applied for a selection of more generic terms such as ‘.app’, ‘.movie’ and ‘.mail’. Australia has objected to the application for several potentially offensive suffixes as they feel it may cause companies to buy out the domains for their site to prevent others from using them for defamation.

Companies attempting to buy up religious based TLDs have also faced warnings. An attempt by Asia Green IT System’s to purchase ‘.islam’ has been met with strong objection by the GAC. A spokesperson from representing the United Arab Emirates claimed that “It is unacceptable for a private entity to have control over religious terms such as Islam without significant support and affiliation with the community it’s targeting,”

ICANN describes this early warning list as a way for governments to raise issues or questions regarding the ownership of top level domains and does not represent legal action. Should the list cause applicants to reconsider their requests, they can withdraw their submission and retain 80% of the fee. The GAC plans to meet again in April 2013 to discuss which of the proposed suffixes will warrant formal complaints. This may delay the ICANN’s current plans to roll out new top level domains in May 2013.