ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is discussing the possibility of expanding the number of top-level domain names (gTLDs) available on the internet. (Top level domains are those things that follow the “dot” in a web address: .com, .edu, .org, etc.)
On the surface, that would seem to be a good idea, but in the proposal is a suggestion to create a cluster of religious domains, such as .catholic, .buddhist, .hindu.
I first found out about the proposal from an e-mail from the prolific advocate Rajan Zed (who sends out a press release on some issue or another just about every day). The message stated emphatically, “Hindus want religion to be kept out of Internet domain names system.” Of course, as always in these notes, “Hindus” means “Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman.”
A little research, however, turned up the fact that Pope Benedict XVI also has his doubts about the proposal. Who, for example, is going to police the .catholic domain to be sure that those who use it are “genuinely” Catholic? Is ICANN ready to oversee the battles between religious groups for the legitimacy to use one or another domain name? As we well know, sometimes the battles between groups within a religious tradition are more bitter than the frictions between traditions. I’m not sure ICANN wants to even consider getting into the midst of all that.
It’s really an issue of “branding,” and the attorneys who deal with such things have joined the chorus of opposition to the ICANN proposal. Jamie Nafziger of Dorsey & Whitney LLP wrote:
The brand owner comments focused mainly on concerns that the costs of obtaining defensive domain name registrations and enforcing trademarks in hundreds of new gTLDs would outweigh the benefits to consumers. The high application fees, the dispute resolution process, the process for deciding between competing applicants, and proposals for including trademarks on the Reserved Names List were also commonly raised. Some of the most thorough comments were from: Microsoft, AT&T, International Trademark Association, and MarkMonitor (on behalf of 70 large companies).
ICANN has not indicated it will abandon its proposal, but it will be interesting to see whether the time for .god has come.
- Catholic Church protests against God’s domain
- Dot Catholic not a good idea: Vatican
- Domain Name Plan Will Confuse Consumers and Hurt Us
Jamie Nafziger, Dorsey & Whitney LLP