ICANN Meeting To Ease Concerns Over gTLDs

WWW, Internet © beboy Shutterstock 2012

The net address regulator will receive feedback from government representatives

Representatives of around 50 countries will meet with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to discuss the implications of some of the new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) names proposed this year.

A total of 1,930 applications for new gTLDs were received by the June deadline, including .bbc by BBC, .gdn, .guardian and .theguardian by Guardian and .google, .docs and .lol by Google, as well as broader terms such as .gay (opposed by Saudi Arabia) or .church.

The meeting will give members of ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) a chance to voice their objections against gTLDs that could be seen as offensive, confusing or not specific enough to be owned by businesses.

By May, ICANN had earned over $350 million from new gTLD applications, despite a security breach in April.

Taking names

GAC was created as a way for national governments to provide input to ICANN on the questions of public policy, national laws and international agreements.

Internet domain names © Dusit beboy Shutterstock 2012According to the BBC, the objections raised by the panel will not be binding on ICANN, but “well reasoned arguments” could convince the organisation to cancel particular applications and refund the $185,000 (£116,300) registration fee.

If GAC doesn’t agree with an ICANN decision, it will be able to launch a formal complaint in April next year.

“They are looking for strings that have broad uses and where one entity is seeking exclusive use. What that means is that they are worried about things like Google running .search, or Amazon running .book,” Bruce Tonkin, vice-chair of ICANN’s board told the BBC.

Concerns also surround gTLDs that involve religious terms, words with multiple meanings and brands which are named after real-world locations or people.

ICANN has also announced it will review the policies governing the WHOIS registration data related to gTDL applications. The original WHOIS protocol was standardised in the early 1980s, before the creation of the World Wide Web.

The news come a week after Kurt Pritz, ICANN’s chief strategy officer and the driving force behind the gTLD reform, announced his resignation due to a “conflict of interest”. The exact reasons behind his departure have not been revealed. According to a statement by ICANN, Pritz will lose all access to the gTLD programme, but Tonkin has assured there was “nothing sinister about it”.

Earlier this year, The United Nations and other international bodies had expressed concerns that the new system might be exploited by cyber-squatters. US advertising bodies have also criticised the plan.

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