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Directors on the board of ICANN applaud after a successful vote at a meeting in Singapore on June 20. The Internet's global coordinator voted to allow the creation of website addresses ending in company names, enabling big firms to replace ".com" with their own brand.
KOCHI: Even as doors have been opened to the addition of multiple generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) names to the global Internet address system (the part that begins with a dot - .com or .org), efforts are on to find ways to subsidise costs for applicants from developing countries.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the international body that oversees the use and deployment of internet address resources, decided to expand the scope of the gTLD regime at its recent meeting in Singapore. The Internet address system, now restricted to 22 gTLDs, will witness the expansion from 2012 when the new programme gets going.
With the opportunities for capitalising on the new system come the costs of registering and maintaining a gTLD. The evaluation fee itself works out to $1,85,000.
ICANN has agreed to consider a suggestion by its Governmental Advisory Committee that this fee be cut by 76 per cent for certain kinds of applicants from developing countries. Other concessions mooted include fee reductions and waivers during the processing of applications and also an additional waiver of the annual $ 25,000 fee during the first three years of operation. Help in terms of technical and logistical matters and ways of pooling in third party support are also being considered.
While ICANN is still in the process of working out the details of the concessions and the modalities of implementation, it is expected to have a support mechanism in place by the time it starts accepting applications for the new gTLDs.
Would countries like India particularly benefit from the package that is being considered? For instance, the draft ICANN document talks about extending assistance to operations in an emerging market or nation “in a manner that provides genuine local social benefit” but restricts such markets or nations to those figuring in U.N. lists of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states — in which India does not figure. Indigenous peoples are also entitled to assistance.
Overall, entities from India would not automatically be qualified to enjoy concessions going by this document, explained Amitabh Singhal, former CEO, National Internet Exchange of India. “The support system is not designed with individual entities in mind but with respect to economies and their duly-recognised status as a whole.” So, indigenous communities from within India might benefit, provided they figure in the specified U.N. list.
Other categories of applicants being considered for the concessions and financial support include distinct cultural, linguistic and ethnic communities; underserved languages, the presence of which on the Internet has been limited; local entrepreneurs in areas with market constraints; and those sponsored by non-profit, civil society and non-governmental organisations “in a manner consistent with the organisations' social service mission.”
Some of those who participated in a discussion on this draft report on June 23 also pointed out that developing countries might not really benefit from moves to help them under the new gTLD dispensation unless the regional imbalances in the domain name infrastructure are redressed. Almost all the existing gTLD registries are located in the U.S. and western Europe.
It has not been decided whether concessions should be extended to governments — if not at the national level, maybe at the regional or local levels, especially from developing countries.
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