New internet name objections filed by government panel

Icann graphic Icann plans to begin its roll-out of new internet address endings in May

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More than 250 "early" objections to proposed new internet address endings have been filed by a panel representing about 50 of the world's governments.

The list includes references to groups of people or locations including .roma, .islam, .patagonia, .africa and .zulu.

There are also concerns about proposed suffixes covering broad sectors such as .casino, .charity, .health, .insurance and .search.

The list was submitted ahead of a planned rollout next year.

The panel - known as the Government Advisory Committee (Gac) - has published its "early warning" list on the web to give applicants a chance to address its concerns or choose to withdraw their submission and reclaim 80% of their $185,000 (£116,300) application fee.

Gac will then decide in April which of the suffixes warrant formal complaints if it still has outstanding concerns, at a meeting in Beijing.

Each warning on the list makes reference to the country which filed the objection. A suffix was only added to the register if no other members of Gac objected to its inclusion.

Anti anti-virus

The organisations and suffixes referred to on the list included:

  • Amazon for its applications for .app, .book, .movie, .game and .mail among others.
  • Google for .search, .cloud and .gmbh (a reference to a type of limited German company).
  • Johnson & Johnson for .baby.
  • L'Oreal for .beauty, .hair, .makeup, .salon and .skin.
  • The Weather Channel for .weather.
  • Symantec for .antivirus.
  • eHow publisher, Demand Media, for .army, .airforce, .engineer and .green.

Despite the large number of objections, Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) - the internet name regulator in charge of the rollout - has indicated that it still believed it would be able to release the first suffixes for use by May 2013.

The organisation does not have to comply with the governments' wishes, but must provide "well-reasoned arguments" if it decides to deny any rejection request.

Competition concerns

A range of reasons were given for the early warnings.

France raised concerns about seven organisations that had applied for .hotel or .hotels on the grounds that it believed that if the suffix was introduced it should be reserved for hotel businesses.

"The guarantee of a clear information of the customer on hotel accommodation services is the best way to promote the tourism industry," it said. "Behind the term hotel as a generic denomination, any customer in the world must have the guarantee that will be directly connected to a hotel."

It is feasible that some of the applicants might be able to give this guarantee, allowing the ultimate owner of the suffix to profit by charging individual businesses to register their hotel websites.

But other issues may be harder to resolve.

For example, Australia objected to Amazon's application for the Japanese-language suffix meaning "fashion" on the grounds it might give the firm an unfair advantage.

"Restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition," the country's government wrote.

Religions and reputations

An objection by the United Arab Emirates to Asia Green IT System's application for .islam may also be impossible to reconcile.

"It is unacceptable for a private entity to have control over religious terms such as Islam without significant support and affiliation with the community it's targeting," it said.

"The application lacks any sort of protection to ensure that the use of the domain names registered under the applied for new gTLD (generic top-level domain) are in line with Islam principles, pillars, views, beliefs and law."

Other problems stemmed from more commercial concerns.

For example. Samoa is opposed to three applications for the suffix .website on the grounds that it is too similar to the .ws suffix it already controls, which provides the South Pacific country with revenue.

Corporate reputations emerged as another sticking point.

Australia has challenged applications for .gripe, .sucks and .wtf on the basis they had "overtly negative or critical connotations" which might force businesses to feel they had to pay to register their brands alongside the suffix to prevent anyone else from doing so.

The only address that the UK filed an objection to was .rugby.

It objected to two applicants which it said did "not represent the global community of rugby players, supporters and stakeholders".

The UK suggested the proposals be rejected in favour of a third submission for the suffix from the International Rugby Board.

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