The World Wide Web just turned 25 and it has become a huge and sprawling place, with more websites coming online all the time.
Now one U.S. senator is taking a stand against website names that end in “.sucks,” he says that this naming scheme is “little more than a predatory shakedown scheme.”
On Wednesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W.Va) wrote a letter to the people who control Internet names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (better known as ICANN). He urged them not to approve the “.sucks” domain.
ICANN is currently expanding the Internet’s naming scheme.
The part of the website name that comes after the “dot” is called a domain, or in ICANN-speak, a “generic top level domain” (gTLD). The “.com” stands for “commercial” indicating a business website, “.edu indicates a school, “.org” a non-profit, “.au” an Australian website and so on.”
Until a few weeks ago, there were only 22 gTLDs. But ICANN is in the process of approving hundreds more.
The companies that register websites have requested almost 1,300 new ones with a handful wanting one called “.sucks.”
ICANN has slowly been approving these requests, and about 100 new gTLDs have already come online, ICANN says.
For instance, domain name registrar Donuts has recently launched .bike, .clothing, .guru, .holdings, .plumbing, .singles, and .ventures.
If the “.sucks” gTLD gets approved, the senator thinks that people will try to use it like a blackmail scheme.
He fears companies will be asked to pay big bucks to buy their own “companyname.sucks” domains to keep others from having it.
It’s already illegal to do that sort of thing, called cyber-squatting, thanks to Internet bubble law called the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.
But Rockefeller points out that domain name registrar Vox Populi Registry is already telling people that it will charge $2,500 to register their trademarked “.sucks” domains now, before the “.sucks” domain has been approved, and if it gets the nod, that fee will go up to $25,000.
It’s likely that ICANN will heed the Senator’s advice and “.sucks” will never come to be. But even if it does, companies may not be too worried about blackmail over it. It takes a lot of effort for any website to become popular these days. Simply owning a website name isn’t necessarily a threat.