.XXX lauch expected, ICANN plans big transformation for domains

The net's regulators will vote on Thursday to decide if the strict rules on so-called top level domain names, such as .com or .uk, can be relaxed. If approved, it could allow companies to turn their brands into domain names while individuals could also carve out their own corner of the net. The move could […]

The net's regulators will vote on Thursday to decide if the strict rules on so-called top level domain names, such as .com or .uk, can be relaxed. If approved, it could allow companies to turn their brands into domain names while individuals could also carve out their own corner of the net.

The move could also see the launch of .xxx, after years of wrangling. Top level domains are currently limited to individual countries, such as .uk (UK) or .it (Italy), as well as to commerce, .com, and to institutional organisations, such as .net, or .org.

To get around the restrictions, some companies have used the current system to their own ends. For example, the Polynesia island nation Tuvalu, has leased the use of the .tv address to many television firms.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which acts as a sort of regulator for the net as well as overseeing the domain name system, has been working towards opening up net addresses for the last three years. The plan would also allow for the new domain names to be internationalised, and so could be written in scripts for Asian and Arabic languages.

Dr Paul Twomey, chief executive of Icann, told BBC News that the proposals would result in the biggest change to the way the internet worked in decades.

“The impact of this will be different in different parts of the world. But it will allow groups, communities and business to express their identities online.

“Like the United States in the 19th Century, we are in the process of opening up new real estate, new land, and people will go out and claim parts of that land and use it for various reasons they have.

“It's a massive increase in the geography of the real estate of the internet.”

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