The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) has ushered in one of the biggest changes yet in the history of the Internet – the ability to pick your own domain name ending.
In future, Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organisations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways.
Yesterday, during a special meeting, the ICANN board of directors has approved a plan to change the Internet's Domain Name System, dramatically increasing the number of Internet domain name endings – called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) – from the current 22, which includes such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net.
"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination,” says Rod Beckstrom, president and CEO of ICANN. “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.”
It is envisaged that new gTLDs will change the way people find information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence.
"Today's decision will usher in a new Internet age," says Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN's board of directors. "We have provided a platform for the next generation of creativity and inspiration."
The decision to proceed with the gTLD programme follows many years of discussion, debate and deliberation with the Internet community, business groups and governments.
The Applicant Guidebook, a rulebook explaining how to apply for a new gTLD, went through seven significant revisions to incorporate more than 1 000 comments from the public. Efforts were made to address the concerns of all interested parties, and to ensure that the security, stability and resiliency of the Internet are not compromised.
Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.