We often use sites with TLDs such as .com, in, .org, .gov etc. but do you know that apart from these TLDs, there are a number of domains that caused controversies and strongly affected the use of the internet.
Earlier, we were restricted with keeping a check on the websites having only 22 top level domains. For instance, .com, .co, .uk and .net are the most common TLDs we have ever used. Initially, the use of custom TLDs was not allowed. But with the changing years, the Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) permitted the organizations and other business to add their custom domains. As a result of this, we are using a hundreds of new domains like .hotel, .sucks etc.
But before we get to know about the controversial TLDs, let us know what domains are specifically titled as ‘top level domain' (TLD). Top Level Domain are the domains at the top level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet. For instance, in www.xyz.com, the TLD is .com. (15.1)
So here's a list of top level domains which caused controversies across the world.
.XXX was initiated in 2011. The idea of ICANN was to allow the pornographic sites to have their own domain extension just to make them identifiable. But apart from pornographic sites, other business and organizations too registered .xxx domain names to identify their business among the public. You won't believe that even Pepsi, Nike and even Google registered themesleves with this TLD as Google.xxx, Nike.xxx!
Not only this, some US colleges also bought dozens of .xxx domains in their name. They even preferred to slap lawsuits on porn directors who registered names that could be related to them.
Away from .xxx, domains .adult and .porn also led to a lot of controversies. Several brands including Microsoft quickly registered their .porn and .adult domains before anyone could.
.gay and .lgbt is another TLD that created controversy in Saudi Arabia. The citizens said that .gay and .lgbt would be offensive to religion and to people who do not support homosexuality. Later the Lesbian and Gay Foundation clarified that they would only use this TLD to support gays and ot to advertise homosexuality.
.lgbt was created under the control of domain registrar Afilias. As per the Afilias, organizations or business can only use .lgbt to show that they are LGBT-friendly.
Yes, the e-commerce site which you often use for shopping is also listed among the controversial TLDs. The world's biggest e-commerce site Amazon landed itself in controversy when it opened the bid for .amazon TLD. The South American countries including Brazil, Uruguay, Peru and others argued that .amazon should only be reserved for the Amazon River and not for any business.
After all the mess, ICANN rejected Amazon’s bid for.amazon.
You cannot use these three domains anytime soon. It was in 2012 when nearly 20 businesses paid over $180,000 each to ICANN for the top level domains. Later ICANN found that these TLDs have already been in use for DNS testing and intranets.
In case ICANN approves these domains, the browsers could access private networks and this could create a serious risk as criminals or hackers can easily use them. Finally after 6 years, ICANN suspended the issue of these TLDs and refunded the amount back to the business owners.
Earlier, the American Bible Society (ABS) registered for a .bible domain and got approval from ICANN in 2016. Today, the society is being blamed of restricting others' freedom of religion as it determines who can have this domain. Even for those it approves, ABS has certain rules explaining the type of content they can post. ABS has some controversial rules too such as not permitting the owners to create content that supports non-Christian beliefs.
.su that stands for the Soviet Union. This TLD was issued to the USSR in the late 90’s. Today, it has become the most common domain for the hackers to copy data of the sites with .su domain. Due to the lax laws, the hackers control bots, rob banks and launch DDoS attacks openly. There was only one option left to stop the hacking and that was was to shut down the .su sites, but that was not possible. The domain .su currently contains over 100,000 sites.
Patagonia, a popular US retailer of apparels, came under scene when the company started the bid for their domain. Apparently, Patagonia is also the name of a region in Argentina and Chile. And under the rules by ICANN, no one can bid for the geographical area if it appears on the ISO 3166 list. As per the ISO, the list includes the international codes of countries and states across the world. The company withdrew its bid after the owner came to know that it can create a controversy.
The Vatican paid $185000 as a fee required to issue any domain. Well, the ICANN is still working on its creation. If it gets approved, the Vatican will own the TLD and will have authority to decide who can register its business in a .catholic domain. But the main opposition will come from Saudi Arabia which has already opposed the TLDs containing any religious terms including .halal, .ummah etc.
.sucks TLD is the most controversial domain ever encountered. Businesses generally like buying domain names that could attract customers right away. A brand attempted to do so but the Canadian company Vox Populi Registry Ltd which manages the TLD charged them a hefty amount of $2499.
The things became worse when Vox Populi adopted a Mafia-like stance and forced businesses to register their domains at unreasonably higher prices. It even threatened to subsidize the domain by selling them to customers at only $10 each. After that, the domains would then be redirected to the forums that would enable the customers to comment on the brand.
.africa came into controversy when it involved two registries: ZA Central Registry (ZACR) of South Africa and DotConnect Africa of Kenya. They both applied for the control of the domain in 2012. And according to the rules, ICANN required either of the two registries, support of 60% of African governments and the approval of African Union to own the domain.
Interestingly, both the registries claimed to have the support of the African Union. Initially, ICANN issued the TLD to DotConnectAfrica and then changed its decision to ZACR. But, DotConnectAfrica did not give up and requested that California could stop ICANN to give the TLD to ZACR. The court then ruled that ICANN could issue the TLD for ZACR. (15.2)
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