Over the past year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit organization that is responsible for, among other things, assigning domain names on the Internet, has given initial approval for over 1,500 new “top level domains” (abbreviated as TLDs and sometimes referred to as “domain extensions”).
This means, fairly soon, you could start seeing sites like http://www.site.love, http://www.site.beauty and http://www.site.toys, among many others.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be snapping up your own .baby or .love domain any time soon, many of the extensions may wind up being controlled by private organizations, such as L’oreal’s bid to control .beauty, where there are obvious business interests in the TLD itself, not in selling new domains. As such, many of those applications are for closed registrations, meaning that the operators of the extension will be selective in who they allow to register.
This has already sparked a predictable and understandable fear of corporate control over the Internet. But while the discussion about the balance between corporate control and Internet freedom is important, it’s also important to ask why ICANN is so eager to expand the number of extensions so quickly and what the impact of that expansion could be on the Internet.
Sadly, if previous expansions have taught us anything, it’s probably the latter. [Read more…]