Feature

New Web names are bad.biz

This expanded namespace will create work for lawyers and Web marketers, “but little extra value” for the rest of us, said Esther Dyson at Slate.com.

Esther DysonSlate.com

The Web’s move far beyond the .com suffix is a big mistake, said Esther Dyson. I was the founding chairman, in the late 1990s, of ICANN, the body that sets rules for the Internet’s domain names. We decided then that if “you owned a trademark, you could get the .com domain for that name.” But now ICANN wants to expand the Web beyond .com and .org to “.anything.” Apple—or anyone else—might register .apple, for example, as well as “apple.phone, and ipod.apple.” This expanded namespace will create work for lawyers and Web marketers, “but little extra value” for the rest of us.

The new rules will put large companies in a position like that of a farmer forced to carve up his land into tiny parcels and pay to retain ownership of each one. ICANN’s offer to help companies safeguard their plots—for a fee—seems like a “protection racket.” It’s hardly reassuring that “most of the people active in setting ICANN’s policies are involved somehow in the domain-name business.” They will benefit from a change that will only “add costs and confusion for companies and the public at large.”

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