Washington - A high-ranking US senator urged Internet regulators on Wednesday to pull the plug on a proposed online neighbourhood for website addresses ending in “.sucks.”
Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller argued in a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers that such an Internet zone aimed to compel companies to buy addresses for the sole purpose of preventing someone from using them.
“I view it as little more than a predatory shakedown scheme,” the Senate Commerce Committee chairman said in a letter addressed to the head of ICANN's board of directors.
Any benefit from such a new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) would be far outweighed by its potential to be used to “defame” individuals, non-profit organisations and businesses, Rockefeller said.
He identified three companies vying for ICANN's blessing to run the domain with the expressed reasoning that such addresses would inspire debate and benefit consumers.
Rockefeller contended that the apparent business model aimed to get people, groups or companies to pay recurring fees to avoid having “.sucks” appended to their names in website addresses.
One contender for running the domain is offering pre-registration of website names for $2 500 (about R25 00), with a warning that the price will leap 10-fold when it is close to opening, according to the senator.
ICANN told AFP that it does not comment on specific gTLD applications, but noted that the “.sucks” domain has not been cleared for release into the Internet naming system.
In November 2012, ICANN's government advisory committee issued a warning that the domain has “overtly negative or critical connotation” and a troubling potential for “defensive registrations.”
New online neighborhoods began opening in January with the arrivals of “.guru,” “.bike” - and even “.singles.”
Opening the Internet to domain names that go far beyond .com, .net, .gov and .edu has been heralded by ICANN as the biggest change to the Web since it was created.
More than 100 new gTLDs have cleared hurdles to reach registries such as Donuts.
“This is a historic milestone for ICANN's new gTLD program and the Internet as a whole,” vice president of gTLD operations Christine Willett said in January.
“The year ahead will be defined by new opportunities in a vastly expanding online landscape.”
Online neighborhoods with addresses ending in the Chinese word for “game;” the Arabic words for “web” or “network,” or the Cyrillic word for “online” were cleared last year and more were to follow suit.
California-based ICANN says the huge expansion of the Internet - with some two billion users around the world, half of them in Asia - means new names are essential. - Sapa-AFP