Web domain expansion 'could affect a million enterprises'

A new report reflects concerns about the addition of more than 1,000 new Web domains.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor
Illustration: Andrew Nusca

"By summer's end," the Washington Post's Craig Timberg warns, "new domains could be going live at a pace of 20 or more each week."

World Wide Web domains that is, with curious forms like ".book," ".doctor" and ".gay." (Memo to industry officials: we'd like to reserve ".zdnet"," ".awesome" and ".perlow". Oh, and ".loverockdavidson", because why not?)

We've known for awhile that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN — the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization whose revenue is tied to domain expansion — was planning for the additions.

But as industry officials meet this week at an international conference in Durban, South Africa, there remains considerable concern that the expansion "could cause widespread disruption to Internet operations," Timberg writes.

It is, in some ways, manifest destiny for the digital age.

The chief concern is making sure that the most critical operations on the Internet, such as financial exchanges and medical resources, keep working. The Internet has always been a bit of a smash-and-grab affair in terms of its growth; we're finally at the point where the penalty for breaking certain things is steep enough to reconsider. 

Critics of the plan say ICANN and others aren't ready for things to break when new domains begin to roll out later this summer. Supporters say those at risk have had plenty of time to prepare.

It's like Y2K all over again.

Is your company ready? Do you expect any disruption? Give us a shout in the TalkBack section below.

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