ICANN the adman?

GCN Insider

We can understand why physicians are granted special license plates and parking privileges in some states so that they won't be penalized when delivering emergency services. But is it appropriate for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to get involved in doling out domain extensions based on an individual's job credentials?

Since the .pro domain extension first appeared in 2004, its use has been restricted by ICANN to four professions: accountants, engineers, lawyers and medical professionals in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Individuals applying for the extension were required to submit written documentation of their credentials from an authorized certifying authority. The registry would then manually authenticate and verify the credentials.

ICANN recently decided to liberalize the .pro extension. Under the new terms of service, the domain extension will become available to any professional or professional entity holding credentials from a certifying governmental authority anywhere in the world.

The registration process has also been simplified so registrants need only supply the type of certification they hold, the name of the organization, and their license number on the registration form.

'This is a significant milestone for .pro,' said Catherine Sigmar, general manager of RegistryPro, a business that manages the .pro domain. 'By approving these changes, ICANN has given us the opportunity to open up .pro to tens of millions of licensed and credentialed professionals and entities across the globe.'

At the same time, Sigmar said, 'Our position all along has been we don't want to become an unrestricted, general-use TLD.'

Some might consider the use of such domain extensions advertising, and it's not clear that ICANN ' which governs what is essentially a public utility ' should be controlling the media in a way designed to benefit selected commercial endeavors.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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