Custom Domain Suffixes Are Coming: Here’s What You Need to Know

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The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved the use of new “top-level domains,” which we’ll start seeing next year. So instead of using .com, .net or .org at the end of websites, businesses (and well-heeled individuals) will be able to create their own “.whatever” suffixes.

If I had $185,000 and wanted to sell some really comfortable pants, for instance, I could do so at http://www.pants.doug — that’s what’s happening. ICANN will accept initial applications between Jan. 12 and April 12 of next year.

(MORE: Want a Custom Domain Suffix? Prepare to Shell Out at Least $185,000)

ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said the following:

ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind.

That’s one way to look at it. Some, like technology activist Lauren Weinstein, see things a bit differently.

Weinstein writes:

The negative impacts of this fiasco on ordinary consumers and Internet users will ultimately become all too clear, as the resulting effects of massively increased cybersquatting, spammers, and phishing take hold.

But apart from that, with the world still in the grips of an economic crisis that threatens to become desperately worse at any moment, the ethically vacuous nature of this entire plan is obvious.

Could all or part of that money just perhaps be used in better ways than for the creation and maintenance of an artificial ‘must buy whether you want it or not’ form of ‘domain names’ product — that does absolutely nothing to advance or solve the many crucial technical, policy, blocking, neutrality, censorship, and free speech issues that are at the forefront of the Internet today a ‘product’ that may actually exacerbate blocking and censorship?

While it can be argued that how companies and individuals choose to spend their money is up to them, the questions about security and censorship are worth looking into.

How to Get Approved (or Denied) for a Custom Domain Suffix

Cybersquatting

What’s to stop me from registering the .pants suffix (aside from not having $185,000) so I can resell it — at a tidy profit — to a big company like Girbaud (their jeans are still cool, right?) that actually wants to sell pants?

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