The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has been busy lately. First, the Southern California-based non-profit responsible for the Internet’s address system created a porn-only, top-level domain. And on January 12, ICANN will start allowing people to register top-level domains of whatever they want.

.Com, .net, and .org — your days of tyranny are over!

Leave it to government officials and businesses concerned about protecting their intellectual property online to spoil the party. Companies are worried that allowing just anything to sit at the right side of a URL address will lead to useless costs and headaches in order to protect against cybersquatters.

We’ve got the nitty.gritty after the jump….

From Bloomberg:

U.S. lawmakers and regulators have asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to scale back the program, spurred by complaints from more than 50 corporations that it will increase their costs, confuse consumers and create opportunities for fraud. The companies, including General Electric Co. and Coca-Cola Co., want the government to persuade Icann to postpone the expansion scheduled to begin Jan. 12.

ICANN’s former chairwoman, Esther Dyson, says the dispute is about the U.S. government not wanting to relinquish control over web regulation. To me, it seems like the issue is about needlessly inviting in a mess of confusing and probably stupid domain names like Waukegan.bestcityever.

Oh yeah, and top-level domains (also known as gTLDs) will now be allowed in non-Latin characters. I guess that’s nice if you live in the Eastern hemisphere, but it’s not so great if you are an American company that will need to hire lawyers who know Japanese, Mandarin, etc. to make sure no one is intruding on your web turf in foreign characters.

I told my roommate about the plan and he said, “What? That is incredibly dumb and pointless. Are they just doing it to get more money?”

At first, I thought, no way. That would be too obvious. It’s a non-profit. But then I read this:

The program may double Icann’s annual $85 million budget, Rod Beckstrom, the group’s chief executive officer, said in an October speech.

Sneaky. Very, very sneaky. Doubling budget over the sales of what basically equate to vanity web addresses. (Bloomberg also reports that ICANN doesn’t receive any government funding. It is funded by fee income.)

This is not the first time ICANN has been accused of squeezing businesses for superfluous domain name registries. When .xxx was rolling out in November, some people estimated 40,000 non-porn companies registered just to protect themselves.

But you don’t have to worry quite yet about your ex creating bradisacheatingSOB.herpes. The new top-level domains will cost $185,000. (Just a little bit more than than the $162 tag for registering a .xxx site.) Hewlett-Packard’s vice president for global marketing told Bloomberg the total cost could run as high as $1.5 million if you include “legal and consulting fees, web development and other costs.”

On the upside, maybe this will lead to some ridiculous law firm web addresses that we can make fun of.

ICANN to expand top level Internet domains despite critics [Reuters]
Web-Name Fight Shows Limits to U.S. Power Over Internet Guardian [Bloomberg]


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