A domain name acts as an identification string that clearly defines a zone of administrative autonomy, control or authority on the internet. Domain names come to light through the procedures of the DNS and as of 2016 over 300 million have been registered around the world.
Regardless of when the internet launched, it’s impossible to deny that the impact that followed was nothing short of astounding. Many people cannot even think about how life was before the internet but despite this, it’s not too hard to forget that the web is barely out of its adolescent stage.
While the internet faces big challenges, it remains in its formative years, constantly changing and evolving to help prevent issues and deliver a great service.
One of the biggest challenges the internet is facing is the potential of running out of room. Domain names are not infinite and with such high demand it is no surprise that the stock is diminishing. This is added to by the fact that domains ending in .com and .co.uk remin very highly sought.
Allowing anyone to buy domain names bolstered the open ideas of the web, but enabled cyber squatters, opportunists who sat on limited online real estate for years and sold them at massive profits. It also gave rise to a number of issues with ownership. A prime example being that McDonalds.com was owned for several months by an individual who beat the company to register it.
Throughout the last few years however, Icann, the body which oversees the internet, has spearheaded an effort to permit thousands of new domains to exist on the web. In addition, generic domains such as .london, .store and .dentist were also planned to come to fruition. Company-owned domains like .barclays and .google have been purchased, with tightly controlled domains, like .bank that only verified financial institutions can use, also being created.
The advantages of these new domains were planned to be threefold. To begin with, they would dramatically increase the web capacity, making the purchase of memorable addresses cheaper. This would permit new companies to thrive and blunt the power possessed by cyber squatting domain name kingpins.
The next advantage was that the new domains would provide more flexibility. For example, replacing google.com/shopping with shopping.google would make mapping out the ever-increasing number of sites easier. It would also allow certain sites to reach their dedicated audiences.
Last but certainly not least, the effort would improve safety. It would allow the creation of domains that had higher security in place so that the domains could only be registered by trustworthy companies. As a result people would be able to visit sites like .barclays with confidence.
In 2011, Icann approved the new domains and referred to it as a “historic decision” but after five years, only 24 million of the 325 million registered websites consist of the new domains. This is quite respectable though, considering that the first ones only came online a few short years ago.
Icann is slowly working towards generating more enthusiasm and breathing new life into the project, through the use of auctions for top level domain names. If given enough time, and if more focus is concentrated on important verification domains like .bank, additional interest may be given to this approach.