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Rush for Internet domain names

world Updated: Feb 08, 2011 00:33 IST

The pillar of the basic Web address — the trusty .com domain — is about to face vast new competition that will dramatically transform the Web as we know it. New Web sites will soon populate the online galaxy, such as .eco, .love, .god, .sport, .gay or.kurd.

This massive expansion to the Internet’s domain name system will either make the Web more intuitive or create more cluttered, maddening experiences. No one knows yet.

Who gets to run .abortion Web sites — people who support abortion rights or those who don’t? Which individual or mosque can run the .islam or .muhammad sites? Can the Ku Klux Klan own .nazi?

The decisions will come down to a little-known nonprofit based in Marina del Rey, California, whose international board of directors approved the expansion in 2008 but has been stuck debating how best to run the program before launching it. Now, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is on the cusp of completing those talks in March or April and will soon solicit applications from companies and governments that want to propose and operate the new addresses.

(In exclusive partnership with The Washington Post)