ICANN to Allow New Web Domain Suffixes

Today, web browsers may see one of 22 domain suffixes, including .com, .org, .edu, and .gov. However, thanks to a new decision by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), web addresses may now end in any word in any language. Hello .walmart, .mcdonalds, and .bankofamerica!

"ICANN has opened the internet's addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination," said Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer for ICANN. "No one can predict where this historic decision will take us."

Acquiring a new domain suffix won’t be easy, however. It will cost $185,000 to apply for a suffix, $25,000 to maintain the name, and companies will need to show they have a legitimate claim to the name they are buying. Unlike the early ‘90s, squatters will not be able to snatch up valuable domain names and sell them at a premium though, as PC Mag’s Lance Ulanoff notes, big corporations may squabble over names like .money or .credit.

Not everyone is a fan of ICANN’s strict and expensive application process.

"Using a real estate analogy, it would be roughly the equivalent of getting approval to build a sky scraper,” Bruce Tonkin, chief strategy officer at domain registry service Melbourne IT told BBC News. "The concern that some people have is that the standards of these buildings will be so high, that they will never get built. It will be too expensive.”

Not to mention that regular people will have no hope of acquiring a domain name of their choice. As Ulanoff puts it, ICANN is “starting a fire in the corporate world and handcuffing everyone else.”
ICANN will begin accepting applications for new domain suffixes on January 12, 2012 with companies and organizations expected to lead the pack.

The decision comes three months after ICANN approved .xxx domain names for adult websites, though one has to wonder if the sites would now rather have .porn or .sex.

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