June 13 D-Day for web addresses

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US and European authorities said they seized 132 websites in a transatlantic law enforcement crackdown on online sellers of counterfeit merchandise.

The agency in charge of website addresses has picked June 13 as the day it will reveal proposed new names for online neighbourhoods breaking the “.com” mold.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said in an online post that it will stop taking applications for Generic Top Level Domains at the end of Wednesday in the GMT time zone and reveal the requests in June.

In January, ICANN began taking applications from those interested in operating Internet domains that replace endings such as .com or .org with nearly any acceptable words, including company, organisation or city names.

Outgoing ICANN president Rod Beckstrom has championed the change as a “new domain name system revolution.”

The new system will allow Internet names such as .Apple or .IMF or .Paris.

ICANN says the huge expansion of the Internet, with two billion users around the world, half of them in Asia, requires the new names.

Registration costs $185,000 with a $25,000 annual fee after that.

ICANN has taken in more than $352 million in application fees, according to Beckstrom. There are more than 2,000 applications in ICANN's system.

“It is going to be very interesting on reveal day,” Beckstrom said.

Revelation of “gTLD” name requests will mark the start of a period during which anyone in the world will be able to have formal objections weighed by ICANN.

The objection period will include resolving conflicts that arise from domain names similar enough to be confusing and those requested by multiple applicants.

Unchallenged gTLD names could get through the approval process in as few as nine months, while those facing opposition could be bogged down for a year or two, according to Beckstrom.

There are currently 22 gTLDs, including .com. At least half of the new names being sought could eventually become online venues for websites.

“We will move from .com or .biz to company names, brand names, city names... that is going to give the whole domain name space a different look and feel,” Beckstrom said.

“And we will, for the first time, have gTLDs in non-Latin script,” he continued. “I think it is a revolution.”

The ICANN board has already committed to another round of gTLD name applications and there is pressure from some parties to do it soon, according to Beckstrom. - AFP

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