Bungling ICANN will now reveal “.vegas”, other new names in June.

After botching the registration process for hundreds of new top level domain names, ICANN has pushed back its “big reveal” date. The 2300 or so new names like “.rugby,” “.green” and “.vegas” that were to be announced on April 30 will now be unveiled sometime next month.

ICANN, the body charged with running the internet’s naming system, had to extend the overall process after an embarrassing glitch that revealed some of the confidential applications.

Applicants are paying $185,000 for the opportunity to sell new internet names that will become available in addition to familiar ones like “.com” or “.org.”

According to former Vice-Chair of ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee, Lena Carlsson, the applicants include financial and pharmaceutical brands who want to purchase their own names. She also said there are competing bids for names like “.eco” and “.green” and that there is interest from Asia in domains with non-Roman characters.

Carlsson, who is now a VP at a domain services business called MelbourneIT, says that “.vegas,” “london” and “.sydney” are also among the names to be revealed. She says there have been approximately 2,300 applications from about 1,300 participants.

A Shakedown

While ICANN has touted the name sales as a “land rush,” critics have slammed the agency for corruption and brazen self-dealing. (For more dirty details, see this account from a Wired editor).

They have pointed out that many of the companies that want to help inaugurate the new domains are run by former ICANN members and that the body has already pulled in more than $350 million in new fees. ICANN’s own documents show that it plans to use a good chunk of this for a legal war-chest to fight off objections to its cash grab.

Meanwhile, businesses that don’t want or need the new domain names complain that ICANN won’t heed their call to create a “do not sell” registry.

Businesses worry that the new names will increase brand-jacking and cyber-squatting — situations where opportunists and criminals effectively hold a company’s name at ransom unless they agree to buy it back (check out the Pinterest.org
page for instance).

In practice, the new names mean a company like Disney must worry not only about someone buying “Disney.pro” or “Disney.xxx” but also names like “deals.disney” or “disney.fun.” Businesses and trademark lawyers have said ICANN’s behavior is a shakedown and “extortion.”

In this light, the reportedly robust sales to financial firms may simply represent companies like BankofAmerica shelling out $185,000 to buy “.bankofamerica” before someone in Nigeria or Russia buys it instead.

[Corrections: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified Lena Carlsson as a former ICANN board member; she was a former Vice-Chair of ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee. The story also understated the number of applications; there are approximately 2,300 not 1,300 reported applications.]