Summary Closed Generic Domains Controversy
Domain name choices for websites are about to dramatically expand. More than a thousand new domain extensions are being evaluated and will be launched soon. The new domains are coming. Domains like Jewelry.store, Software.cloud and Life.insurance will join existing traditional name options like GoldJewelry.com and CloudSoftware.co.uk.
However, among the applications are many for "closed registries" which means that none of the domains carrying that extension will be offered for sale to the general public. Instead, large corporations are planning to operate tens of thousands of websites under those domains in complete exclusivity. This will obviously be to their obvious commercial advantage.
Domain super monopolies to shut out competitors.
Imagine for a moment a single company owning every .store domain like the following samples, plus hundreds of thousands more, covering every product in existence:
Well that is precisely what Amazon, already an internet retail giant, is planning to do.
(The .store string is discussed on the .STORE string page - Ed.)
As an example, The Weather Channel has applied to operate a closed registry on the proposed .weather string:
See more info on the Misc strings 1 page.
The implications of single corporations owning every domain in some of the new extensions are profound in the extreme. The potential for commercial damage to competitors is great.
Competitors will be locked out even government regulators who control those industries will be blocked. (In the .weather example, even national weather organizations will be prohibited from owning .weather domains.) This situation has led to the risk of powerful super monopolies being created to the detriment of other entities and companies in the same industries. Serious questions are being raised about the extent to which this is seriously detrimental to the public interest.
The Existing Domains
There are currently two types of domain names on the internet, as illustrated in the top pie chart at left:
There are more than 250 country domains, one for every country.
There are currently only about 20 generic domains which has led to a shortage of good names for new business start-ups and individuals.
SPECIAL NOTE For the sake of this discussion (because it is so dominant) the .com domain string is given a category of its own in the pie chart at left though technically it is just another generic domain.
So in the 2013 pie chart at left we have three categories...
(* NOTE Technically, .TV is the country code extension for Tuvalu, but is mostly used as a generic.)
The New Domains
1900 applications for more than 1400 new domain extensions were received by the deadline in 2012.
These are scheduled to begin rolling out in late 2013 and the process will probably take a couple of years. How the internet may look in six or seven years time is represented in the lower pie chart at left.
NOTE Numbers on this page are approximate.
Two completely new categories of domains are being added which you can see in the lower pie chart:
One completely new sub-category is possibly being added:
These appear to be the same as normal generic domains, but with one all-important and critical point of difference...
...Every domain under that string will be owned by a single owner. For example, Amazon has applied to own the .store string as a closed registry. That means Amazon will own every .store domain and website in the world. Sites like Camera.store, Beauty.store, Phone.store, Music.store, Jewelry.store, AutoPart.store and WomensClothing.store. Plus the dozen in the graphic on the top of this page like Department.store, plus hundreds of thousands more. The list is unlimited.
Yes, it's hard to believe that this may be being permitted to happen.
So in the 2020 pie chart at left we now have five categories, plus one new sub-category closed generics.
Many Objections Made in the Public Interest
As you might expect, objections to the disturbing advent of closed generic gTLDs are passionate, and 100 excerpts from the ICANN closed generics forum are published on the ICANN forum pages. This is a threat to many industries. As an example, here are just three excerpts from high profile objections to the application to operate the .book string as a private registry:
DomainNameExplosion.com An overview of the gigantic new top level domain expansion program.
SuperMonopolies.com A hypothetical analysis of the new top level domain names coming in 2013-14.
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