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Thousands compete for Internet suffixes
Proposals include .lol, .bank
Question of the Day
Google’s bid for “.Google” as an Internet suffix is among about 2,000 proposals submitted as part of the largest expansion of the Internet address system since its creation in the 1980s. Google Inc. also wants to add “.YouTube” and “.lol” the digital shorthand for “laugh out loud.” Others want approval for “.doctor,” “.music” and “.bank.”
If approved, the new suffixes would rival “.com” and about 300 others now in use. Companies would be able to create separate websites and separate addresses for each of their products and brands, for instance, even as they keep their existing “.com” name. One day, you might go to “comedy.YouTube” rather than “YouTube.com/comedy.”
The organization behind the expansion, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will announce in London on Wednesday which suffixes have been proposed. Google and a handful of other companies disclosed some of their bids ahead of time. Most proposals, however, remain a mystery.
From a technical standpoint, the names let Internet-connected computers know where to send email and locate websites. But they’ve come to mean much more. Amazon.com Inc., for instance, has built its brand around the domain name.
The expansion will allow suffixes that represent hobbies, ethnic groups, corporate brand names and more.
It’ll take at least a year or two, however, for ICANN to approve the first of these new suffixes. It could take a few months longer for them to appear in use.
Some of them never will if they are found to violate trademarks or are deemed offensive. Others will be delayed as competing bidders quarrel over easy-to-remember words such as “.web.” When multiple applications seek the same suffix, ICANN will encourage parties to work out an agreement. ICANN will hold an auction if the competing bidders fail to reach a compromise.
The expansion, already several years in the works, had been delayed by more than a month this spring because of technical glitches with the application system.
Alex Stamos, whose Artemis Internet company is bidding for “.secure,” said the expansion will “create much more specific neighborhoods with specific focus and goals.”
Mr. Stamos envisions “.secure” as a neighborhood for banks, medical professionals, payroll providers and others needing to establish consumer trust. Websites that adopt “.secure” instead of “.com” in their names would go through additional screening and be required to follow certain security practices such as encryption of all Web traffic.
The suffixes are restricted to the richest companies and groups, which paid $185,000 per proposal. If approved, each suffix would cost at least $25,000 a year to maintain, with a 10-year commitment required. By comparison, a personal address with a common suffix such as “.com” usually costs less than $10 a year.
ICANN has received at least $350 million in application fees. The money will be used to set up the system, review applications and make sure parties do what they have promised once the suffix is operational. Some of the money will be set aside to cover potential lawsuits from unsuccessful applicants and others.
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