New Web Domains Set to Flood the World With Cybersquatters
News circulates that Buckingham Palace has bought up a large number of website addresses for the Royal Family to ‘protect their online identities.‘ Domain names such as the princessroyal.org, earlandcountessofwessex.com and princessbeatrice.org have been secured.
This links up with the fact that the world is about to wake up to the advent of well over 1000 new web address endings as new suffixes are approved and come into use.
Dwarfing the 22 approved now in use (.com, .net, .uk and .org) what are called ‘generic top-level’ names will open up the web in a revolution that is as big as any in recent times.
London is due to be on stream at the end of April, with .london expected to appeal to businesses and individuals alike, even those based elsewhere in the UK as the London economy rockets ahead and being seen to be part of it is a good business endorsement. It is thought 1 in 4 small businesses will want a .London address.
Berlin and Vienna will follow quickly after. Every country, city, region, community could eventually sport its own handle. Inventive businesses will be able to personalise them to further promote and the dreaded advertisers will push at still more boundaries.
Suffixes such as .hotel, .holidaypark, .tesco will extend the reach of online marketing and that is its appeal for many. Into a more murky world such as .porn or .trolling may not be too far down the road once the opportunities are there.
Some critics claim that nobody really cares about web addresses. However, vanity handles are quite common. Personal domains are available for purchase on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
I have one. I didn’t buy it because I’m a vain purchaser. I have it because I was an early user of emails in the 1990s and was able to secure my name as my domain and MailBigFile has kept it safe for me for many years now.
Last year I was assaulted after a family wedding in York and the police officer who took my statement asked for my email address and when I told him said, ‘you must have been famous…’
Clearly, to him I wasn’t famous now!
Making the Web Truly Global
Mindful of criticism that it is too US focussed and too western, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has introduced suffixes in Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic characters.
Now it is going to reflect better the whole world. But watch out for minority language purists demanding representation in that world. Gaelic, Welsh and Cornish spring to mind, but there are others. There is no reason why anybody anywhere shouldn’t be able to register a domain name and suffix.
Especially if the open web is still a serious desire in the majority of users.
Of course total freedom opens the doors to misusers and chancers.
If you saw a domain called .cybersquat you wouldn’t be interested. But if you are Marks and Spencer and you see .M&Sstore or similar you may want to buy that site to prevent your customers missing your own site.
Big companies are quick to crack down on small businesses who may use or already be using something close to their trademarks. This will be the same.
Cybersquatting is already a business and has been subjected to court cases where the squatters have not always won.
What is unknown yet is how far new domains will be lowered down search engine rankings if they are small, relatively unimportant or easily subject to excess spam.
The legitimacy of some more obscure addresses will be much harder to judge making it more difficult to clamp down on scams, frauds and trolling.
If you saw .scam you probably wouldn’t go there. But if you saw .suffolk, you might, even if it was a mask for .scam being run from the other corner of the world.
But then again, a respectable-looking site could already be a scam, so what’s new?
Cybercriminals Should Keep Us All Alert, Looking Over Our Shoulders, 22 October 2013
CAPTCHA Is a Busted Flush Now, Thank to an Algorithm, 27 November 2013
No Green Credentials for Computer Scammers and Internet Pirates, 23 January 2013