There’s been a lot written about the domain-name “land grab” that ICANN — the agency in charge of the internet’s central address system — unleashed recently, by offering companies the chance to register thousands of new top-level domains that could be used alongside the usual selection like .com and .org. While some of the suggestions are amusing, others are more troubling: Google, for example, wants the exclusive right to reserve domains such as .search and .blog for its own use, and Amazon wants to do the same with .music and .cloud. Some critics, including open-web advocate and blogging pioneer Dave Winer, think this is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed. Are they right?
Just to recap, ICANN — otherwise known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which used to be a U.S. government-funded agency but is now a non-profitmanaged by a variety of industry stakeholders — decided last year that it was going to add hundreds or even thousands of new “top level” domains to the system. The agency says that this is driven by a desire to open up competition in the domain-registry business, but others argue that it is a revenue grab by ICANN and others (since registrants had to pay $185,000 to file each claim and will pay monthly fees as well) and will make the internet even more complicated.