ICANN says it intends the new addresses, which are in non-Latin script, to create a more globally-inclusive internet
The first four new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) have been approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the body responsible for the allocation of new top level domains onto the internet.
Four new gTLDs were set to go live on the web after receiving approval, and include words in Chinese, Cyrillic and Arabic script that translate to ‘.online,’ ‘.games,’ ‘.site,’ and ‘.web.’
There are around 1.7 billion Arabic, Chinese and Russian speakers, making up more than one seventh of the world’s population. Allowing organisations to register web addresses in Arabic, Chinese and Russian script will therefore open up a way for new markets to brand themselves online.
ICANN says the gTLDs demonstrate its efforts to create a more globally-inclusive internet, and that these are the ‘first of many’ gTLDs in non-Latin scripts including Greek and Hindi.
‘We are already starting to see the emergence of registry sites in Latin script… and a full Arabic script domain going live,’ said Ben Anderson, head of the new gTLDs at NetNames – a company that manages domain names.
Up until now there have been only 22 approved gTLDs worldwide, including .com, .org, .biz, .info and .net.
Yesterday’s announcement marks the first phase of opening up the internet to a possible 1,4000 proposed new domains or ‘strings.’
It took eight years for ICANN to approve the first four domains through a rigorous process of evaluation and consultation.
Over 1,900 applicants came forward to register their suggestions since the application window opened in January 2012.
The new tags could potentially allow organisations to further customise their online brands, with private companies allowed to apply for their own branded gTLDs.
Organisations would have to pay a minimum of $25,000 a year for the use of their equivalent to a .org or .com address – Google made 101 requests including .google and .youtube, and the BBC applied for .bbc.
But the process of issuing new gTLDs is complicated by concerns such as protection of intellectual property and DNS stability.
ICANN rejected Google’s application for ‘dotless’ domains on ‘security’ grounds, and several of Amazon’s applications have come under fire from rival publishing groups competitive grounds for wishing to register and take strict control of ‘.book, ‘.read,’and ‘.author.’
ICANN’s generic domains division president Akram Atallah described the launch of the first new domains as ‘the biggest change to the Internet since its inception,’ ‘In the weeks and months ahead, we will see new domain names coming online from all corners of the world, bringing people, communities and businesses together in ways we never imagined,’ he said in a statement, ‘It’s this type of innovation that will continue to drive our global society’.