ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is planning to expand internet addresses by allowing the part after the dot to be almost anything you want it to be, provided you pay the appropriate large fee. So .com, .net. .co.uk, and many more could expand to .cheese, .basket, and .unitedkingdom. All this may start coming into effect within the next few months. If you think it is difficult now to remember whether to find your Gallon Environment Letter at gallonletter.ca or gallonletter.com just wait until you could also realistically try gallonletter.eco or gallonletter.boozydrink! (By the way, you can find GallonLetter at both gallonletter.ca and gallonletter.com.)
But, more seriously, there is a complication to this expansion of what are called Top Level Domains. Some countries do not like the way in which the names of their environmental treasures might be expropriated. Among the battles currently raging:
.amazon, proposed by the retailer of the same name, opposed by Brazil and Peru, who believe the name belongs to their riverine treasure.
.africa, proposed by DotConnectAfrica Trust, an independent non-profit, non-partisan organisation incorporated specifically to sponsor, establish and operate the proposed new Top Level Domain .africa, opposed by the African Union Commission, the Government of Comoros, the Government of Kenya, the Government of Cameroon, and many more African governments.
.swiss, proposed by Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. and opposed by the Government of Switzerland.
.patagonia, proposed by your ‘friends’ at Patagonia, Inc. and opposed by the Governments of Argentina and Chile.
.charity, proposed by Corn Lake, LLC and by Spring Registry Limited and opposed by the Government of Australia.
.news, proposed by Amazon and opposed by the Government of Australia.
.green, proposed by United TLD Holdco Ltd., Top Level Domain Holdings Limited, and Afilias Limited, and opposed by the Government of the Czech Republic (God bless them!).
.bio, proposed by STARTING DOT and opposed by the Government of France.
It is a long list and we have only given some examples but you get the idea. Maybe we should have tried to register .gallonletter, though it is doubtful that our revenues could have supported it! But there are lots of companies and organizations trying to make a buck out of the new top level domains and a goodly number of governments, which are the only organizations allowed to object, suggesting that many of these web addresses should be somewhat more in the public domain.
The current issue of Gallon Environment Letter discusses whether natural objects, especially natural beings, should be available to all for private profit, or whether there should be rules that prohibit use of the contents of the Global Commons, things like the likeness of the gecko, for private profit without appropriate compensation, just as you cannot use the image of the editor of Gallon Environment Letter for private profit without his consent (and compensation, he hopes!). We expect this to be a controversial topic!
You can find the list of controversial proposed new top level domains at https://gacweb.icann.org/display/gacweb/GAC+Early+Warnings
You can receive your own personal copy of Gallon Environment Letter, monthly edition, by sending an email with Add GL in the subject line and your email in the main body of the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. This month only you will receive the current issue and a full year of the free Honoured Reader edition if you send the message by May 15th, 2013.