17 July 2000

Following months of lobbying from businesses and other internet groups, global internet name regulator ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), agreed unanimously to expand top level domain suffixes beyond the current seven names such as .com, .org and .net. Country suffixes such as .uk, .fr (France) and so on are not classified as ‘top level’.

ICANN, which convened last week in Yokohama, Japan, sanctioned expansion in principle as predicted [WAMN, 13-Jul-00], but failed to agree on any specific suffixes, leading critics to accuse it of torpidity. Instead, a public consultation will follow with the final selection of suffixes unlikely to be announced until December at earliest.

Said one ICANN board member, Esther Dyson: "We were looking for diversity among domain names. The meaning of this is a reduction of scarcity. We're expecting new names by early next year."

Among the many lobbyists for change is the European Union which wants an .eu suffix to boost the internet profile of European-based companies. Other groups are campaigning for a system using non-western alphabets.

News source: Financial Times