The second of the three annual ICANN meetings is in Sydney, Australia in late June. The two main topics for discussion will certainly be around how ICANN is opening the door on applications to gTLD (generic top level domains) to be created next year, the release of idnTLDs is also on the slate.
The new gTLDs is a huge issue as the landscape of the internet will look really bizarre if this takes off as ICANN hopes it will. ICANN feels it’s the right time to let any company, group or individual with enough money and support system in place to open it’s own generic top level domain (gTLD). It will allow generic top level domain applicants to apply (including a very hefty application fee) for any “generic” top level domain they can think of.
In my eyes, opening the domain name system in this fashion is a hasty decision. It looks like a huge money grab that will have negative effects on general internet usability. The domain name system may see gTLDs such as .nike, .coke, .ebay, .google.. Ok, those may be useful and easy to assign. But what about .flowers, .realestate, .cars, .pizza?? Who gets rights to those..? First come, first served? According to ICANN, they approve them on a case by case basis. Now think about these: .mexico, .london, .isreal, .chicago….? ICANN has stated geo gTLDs would be allowed and that local officials will be partially responsible for helping ICANN figure out who can own these gTLDs. How can all of these different types of TLDs be put under the gTLD umbrella? and furthermore doesn’t allowing a geo gTLDs such as .london or .mexico undermine the ccTLD (country code TLD) system we already have in place? Mass confusion may result.
Here is a quote from an ICANN blogger Kieren McCarthy from the post titled “So where are we up to with these new Internet extensions?” on the official ICANN blog.
The “new gTLD program” envisions a very significant increase in the number of “generic top-level domains” – or Internet extensions like dot-com, dot-net, dot-info etc. At the moment there are 21 of these extensions of three characters or more. But the gTLD program is estimating a further 500 within the next two years or so. It’s a huge change in the Internet’s domain name system.
Ok, 500 new gTLDs within two years, sound reasonable right?? Umm, not to me. No it does not sound reasonable. I have watched 18-20 new gTLDs be rolled out over the last 5-8 years, most of which are barely used at all by respective industries. For instance .jobs – When was the last time you or someone you knew went to a .jobs site to search for a job? Or .travel? Yes, I use .travel all the time for my airline bookings! (NOT!) Both of these gTLDs have been around for years now with virtually no real world usages.
What makes ICANN think that popping 500 new gTLDs out of the woodwork will do anything for consumers and internet users?? Why must they rush to open the door to unlimited gTLDs? Seems like they are shooting for quite a high number of gTLDs to add to the domain registry in such a short time. I am predicting massive failure due to hasty decision making by ICANN in these ram and cram, three times a year meetings where new policies are “agreed upon” and implemented.
While reading the ICANN blog on this topic be sure to note in the comment section the specific questions posed by M. Menius and the empty answers Kieren replies with.