Governments around the world have objected to more than 250 proposed top level domains. It brings added uncertainty to what could be a revolution in website addresses.
The new system means that website addresses will no longer be restricted to ending with either a specific country code (such as .ca) or one of a short list of approved suffixes such as .com or .org. Instead, in a move that has been in the works for several years, people will be able to register any name they like and then sell subdomains.
It’s not quite as simple a process as registering a normal address however. Applicants must pay $185,000 and put together a lengthy proposal showing they have a clean background and have sufficient finances to operate the domain.
The first round of applications has already been received. In cases with multiple applications, those involved are currently able to negotiate with one another to reach a deal to decide who gets it. If they don’t reach a deal, they’ll have to settle it with an auction.
There is another hold up though. The Government Advisory Committee, a group set up to represent around 50 major countries, had the right to review the applications and object to particular names. That list of objections has now been published.
For the most part the objections fall into three main categories. The first is specific countries objecting to particular claims on taste and similar grounds. For example, Italy objects to the registration of .roma while the United Arab Emirates objects to the registration of both .islam and .halal. Secondly several countries object to a company being able to register and control a geographic name such as .swiss and .africa.
Finally, some countries seem to object to businesses getting the rights to generic terms without adequate protection. For example, Australia doesn’t believe a company should be allowed to control .city without giving more assurances that it will make sure subsequent buyers of second level domains (such as sydney.city) don’t use the site for harmful or abusive purposes.
In fact Australia seems to be down on many of the suggestions, noting that it can’t see any use for the likes of .sucks and .wtf other than in fleecing businesses that feel they need to register “their” subdomain defensively. That issue is likely to be the main point of contention in the review process.
In each case with an objection, the applicants now get the chance to withdraw their claim and get a refund of 80 percent of their fee. If they opt not to do so, the full government committee will examine the objection at a meeting next April and decide if the name should be allowed.
This could lead to an interesting cat and mouse game in cases with multiple applications as those who hold their nerve might find they become the sole remaining bidder — but will of course be gambling that the objection fails.