Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Universal Acceptance of All Top-Level Domains

The Internet is growing. From the start of the Internet through 2000 the number of top-level domains was small and the format of domain names was simple. All domains ended with one of a number of common endings like ".com", ".net" and "org.", or a two-letter country code like ".de" or ".uk". Times have changed. Since 2001, new types of domains have been, and are being, introduced:

  • ASCII TLDs of more than 3 letters long (think of ".info" or ".museum"); and
  • since 2010, TLDs comprised of non-Latin characters (such as".中国" and".рф").

While these changes significantly broke the pre-2000 rules of what looked like a legitimate top-level domain the changes happened infrequently enough so that eventually the word got out. With the ICANN Board's approval of the new gTLD program in 2011 the door has opened for more frequent additions of legitimate TLDs. From October 2013 to February 2014 over 150 new top-level domains have been added, including 16 IDN gTLDs in that count.

At the same time, software running Internet services, such as the web, email and many others, has greatly improved. This sounds like a good thing but it sometimes backfires in the effort to expand domain names in use. With more stable software, updates are farther and farther apart in time. Software developers concerned with speed, safety and user friendliness have made choices that restrict new names being used through, for example, limiting the TLDs a user can specify via drop-down box or including a static list of what is considered to be a valid TLD. Given these checks "burned into the code" with less frequent updates, new top-level domain names face acceptance problems.

The cooperation of software vendors, open source tool developers, Internet services providers, web site developers and others is required so that these new TLDs are available to all that would use them. There are three concerns to address:

  • Removing the "false positive" in filters preventing the use of new TLDs
  • The ability to render (see and write) all names in the native script
  • And, achieve the intended level of safety and convenience in a rapidly changing DNS.

The webpage TLD Universal Acceptance Home will be updated to reflect the history and progress on this topic. To submit questions or contribute additional material that may be helpful in further work on this, please use the contact listed on that page.

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