New Domain Names In The Future? Call It a Definite.maybe
The non-profit corporation responsible for overseeing the Web's domain-naming rules came to the Hill today, partly to push forward an agenda that it's time to expand the type of Web addresses beyond the familiar ".com" and ".org." But don't expect to be able to register "your.name" as a Web address anytime soon.
Paul Twomey, president and chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, in testimony before the House subcommittee on communications, technology and the Internet, said that raising the number of domain names would benefit Web users by allowing for more competition. Twomey listed possible domain names tied to geographic areas, like ".nyc," or topics, such as .sport."
Also, he said, allowing for more foreign language-based domain names would be fair to the "billions of non-English speakers who want domain names that look like their language."
Not everybody's an immediate fan of this idea, by any stretch. After all, the World Wide Web has already seen more than a few opportunistic, domain-name-buying cybersquatters. What's more, critics point out, consumers have a hard enough time feeling secure on the Web; an increase in the number of possible domain names will only increase confusion.
Consumers need to be confident, said Sarah Deutch, general counsel at Verizon Communications Inc., that if they visit some future "verizon.phone" Web address, for example, that they aren't ending up at an address belonging to a cyberscammer.
ICANN also took a number of jabs from congressfolk about the group's transparency and accountability -- or lack thereof.
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) pointed out that the strength of the Web is its open-ness and its democratizing powers, "yet it seems to me that the way ICANN operates does not match that."
Christine Jones, general counsel for The Go Daddy Group Inc., the Internet domain name seller and Web hosting company, echoed that sentiment as she asked for ICANN to operate less privately. "We ask a question and basically we get stonewalled," she complained.
One topic on the table was the future of U.S. government oversight of ICANN. At the end of September, an arrangement that gives the Department of Commerce oversight over ICANN expires. The House subcommittee, led by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), sounded inclined to extend that oversight period this morning.
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