ICANN board okays plan for top-level domains

More sponsored top-level domain (TLD) names are coming to the Internet, but it is unclear how many and how soon, according to the...

More sponsored top-level domain (TLD) names are coming to the Internet, but it is unclear how many and how soon, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The board unanimously approved a proposal to add "a limited number" of sponsored TLDs to the seven new domains selected as a "proof of concept" two years ago.

Sponsored domains are created for specific community groups, unlike generic domains such as ".com". Existing sponsored domains include ".museum" and ".coop," which are meant for use by museums and co-operative organisations.

ICANN had said it would allow three more sponsored TLDs, but that number was abandoned as it came under fire from an audience filled with interested parties here at ICANN's annual meeting in Amsterdam at the weekend.

"The three was to indicate that it was going to be a small number, there is no prime number requirement," said Stuart Lynn, ICANN's president and chief executive officer (CEO) and initiator of the proposal.

Two years ago, ICANN approved only seven of the 191 proposed names. On Saturday, during ICANN's public forum, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated its case for ".travel," the World Health Organisation (WHO) lobbied for ".health," Nokia for ".mobile" and a group of Internet companies said it wants ".III" for individuals.

Nokia, IATA and the WHO also applied in 2000 and are now pushing ICANN to hurry along with the additional TLDs.

Lynn will draft a document giving details of what qualities ICANN should look at when considering applications from organisations wanting to run a TLD. Future domain name owners should have some safeguards that the TLD is run by a solid organisation, he said.

Audience members reminded ICANN that it is a technical co-ordinator and that it should not go down the path of semantic authentication of domain requests.

Opponents of adding TLDs, mostly large corporations fearing more intellectual property cases over domain names, want ICANN to complete the evaluation of the seven TLDs approved in 2000 before adding more domains.

Some of those new domains are successful; the millionth ".info" domain was registered last month, for example. The restricted sponsored community domains have fewer registrants, with several hundred for ".museum" and registration for ".pro" for professionals has not even begun.

There is no set time for Lynn to finish the document that will detail which criteria should be used for adding some more community TLDs. "But it is very high on the priority list," he added.

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