Last week's decision by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to add new top-level domain names to the ubiquitous .com, .net and .org has been met with mixed reaction from Australian domain registration companies.
At a meeting in Yokohama, Japan, ICANN agreed to push forward with a plan to expand the range of top-level domain names. ICANN put off until November deciding exactly which names will be adopted, but the group will be accepting proposals for new domains from August 1 to October, and likely candidates include .shop, .web and .per.
Domain name provider Melbourne IT welcomed the move and confirmed that it would bid for the management of one of the new domains through its subsidiary Internet Names Worldwide (INWW). The company would not reveal which domain name it would chase, but did say that the bid would be as lead manager in a consortium of international Internet companies.
"We're very supportive of the introduction of new top level domain names," said Melissa Shawyer, Melbourne IT INWW's communications manager. "We've taken a leadership position pushing this issue for months and we're very happy with the decision. We think it will be beneficial for the industry as a whole and expand the market from both a business and a personal perspective."Shawyer said the decision would increase the level of choice and flexibility for Internet consumers, giving them the option of more meaningful and instantly identifiable extensions.
However, there are concerns the real impact will be increased territory for companies to protect their brand name integrity from the risk of cyber-squatting.
"The issue will be the degree to which existing .com owners will simply pile in and register their brand name in the new domain names to protect themselves. It could be counterproductive," said Larry Bloch, CEO of Australian domain registrar Net Registry. "It will be interesting to see the timelines for introducing the new ends and whether they will be available for purchase by the man on the street."Shawyer said she didn't have the solution to the problem of cyber-squatting, but businesses should protect themselves by registering in as many forms as possible.
"Melbourne IT does have robust procedures in place to ensure the integrity of registrations. We always say to businesses that to protect their brand name security online they should register their domain in all forms. It's a concern, but I don't have the answer."Bloch said he feared the introduction of the additional names could spark a flurry of litigation as lawyers rushed to protect their clients from cyber-squatting, yet he conceded the review was desperately needed.
"There's no doubt .com is creaking at the seams," Bloch said. "It's well needed with the domain name system globally and it's probably long overdue. Hopefully, it will be introduced smoothly with the minimum of litigation."Given that the majority of Web transactions are local rather than global, Bloch said he expected the new top-level domain names would have .au extensions added in the future.