Branching out

Branching out

Cyber world will undergo a major facelift when the internet naming board’s decision to allow a  number of new domain names comes into effect in the coming months.

The method of naming sites will be changed and whole new categories of suffixes relating  to subjects like particular industries, geographies, ethnicities etc will come into being. It will also be possible to have them in languages like Hindi or Chinese. Now the suffixes are limited to 22 common forms like .com, .edu or country indicators like .in. The need for more global top level domains has arisen with more languages being used on the internet and a new numbering system making it technically possible to have many more new suffixes.

Ever since ICANN, the non-profit organisation that acts as the custodian of the internet made the announcement, the cyber world is agog with excitement but there are reservations and apprehensions also. ICANN will soon start receiving applications for new custom domain names from companies, groups, individuals and institutions. The new suffix will not come cheap as the application will involve an initial cost of $1,85,000 and a recurring annual charge of $25,000. The advantage is that the new domain name will be unique and personalised and easy to remember. Companies and institutions will consider it a matter of prestige to own them and they will even serve as trade marks. ICANN has taken the decision after years of deliberation, though some minor and tentative steps were taken in 2002 and 2004. It says it has tried to address all concerns and that the security, stability and resilience of the internet will not be affected in any way. It also claims that the new system will provide a platform for creativity and inspiration and will be strengthened by innovation.

But there are some who are not happy. They fear that the new names will create confusion and increase the risk from ‘’phishing’’ sites. New kinds of cyber fraud and internet squatting can emerge and owners of new addresses may have to spend large amounts of money on litigation. There is also a view that domain names will become less and less important in the age of social media and even companies will rely less on their web sites in future. But ICANN is sure and confident. The new system will change the way internet is seen and used  but its impact is uncertain now.

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