Struggle to Manage .Eco Domain Rolls On

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One of the organisations hoping to manage the domain has hired an environmental researcher to demonstrate its green credentials

The competition to wrestle control over the new .eco domain is continuing with the news that the group backed by former vice president Al Gore has recruited a leading environmental researcher as its chief environment officer.

Dot Eco LLC announced that it has hired Jim Dufour, associate director at Scripps Institution of Oceanography Instrument Development Group, to help oversea the initiative’s scientific research activities.

“We are delighted that Jim has accepted our challenge to fully define the future of the .eco environmental domain. Having spent more than 30 years at the forefront of ocean and environmental research, Jim’s scientific perspective and relationships are invaluable,” said Fred Krueger, chief executive of Dot Eco LLC.

Commenting on his appointment, Dufour, who has more than 30 years experience in environmental research, said Dot Eco could provide an much needed source of funding for climate protection initiatives and scientific research. “Our hope is that it will also define a forum for trustworthy and concise scientific information for all to see,” said Jim Dufour.

The .eco domain name is among a list of new domains being developed by ICANN, the US government-backed organisation which manages the address system of the internet. The new domains are expected to be available from next year and various groups are lobbying to take control of their management. Beyond that, ICANN is planning to extend the domain system with an almost unlimited number of new top level domains.

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Along with Dot Eco LLC, a Canadian company Big Room is also vying to manage the allocation and registration process for a .eco address. The companies have been fairly vociferous in their claims to manage the domain thus far with Dot Eco LLC releasing a report last week criticising Big Room’s plan to manage the domain.

“We’re releasing this open examination because we’re tired of Big Room’s leaders mischaracterising our efforts and making exaggerations about their own plan, which after careful analysis proves to be unworkable,” said Dot Eco boss Krueger.

Dot Eco plans for the .eco domain include allowing companies to promote their environmental initiatives, and “for environmental organisations to maintain their websites in a namespace that is more relevant to their core missions”. Dot Eco also claims that a certain percentage of its profits from managing the domain will be distributed to environmental projects.

For its part, Big Room also claims to have garnered support from across the environmental sector ans recently launched a consultation process to get opinions about how the .eco domain should be run. “In the spirit of openness and transparency, Big Room has turned the keys over to the global community to build a consensus for stewardship of .eco,” said Big Room co-founder Anastasia O’Rourke. “Our collaborative process opens a dialogue with the world about how best to use .eco.”

However despite the struggle to manage the .eco domain, some commentators question whether ICANN really needs to open up more domains at all. Some companies see the release of new domains as simply creating problems for managing their brand online – unless they register their trademark within a certain period, others may do so and seek to capitalise from it.

“I just don’t think the world needs another top level domain, and certainly not one that is designed “for companies to promote their environmental initiatives,” said Techcrunch Mike Arrington in a quote, unusually, on the Dot Eco LLC website.

ICANN however claims that the new domains are necessary and important to the development of the web. “The expansion will allow for more innovation, choice and change to the Internet’s addressing system, now constrained by only 21 generic top-level domain names. In a world with 1.5 billion Internet users—and growing—diversity, choice and competition are key to the continued success and reach of the global network,” ICANN said in a statement.


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