Solomonic: Who owns the word ‘catholic’, ‘islam’, ‘bible’ online

Centuries-old theological disputes have broken out in cyberspace as religions aim to influence the future presentation of faith on the Internet.

The forum for the rivalry is not the pulpit or church bulletin, but the website of ICANN, the corporation that oversees the Internet address system and now wants to expand it beyond the usual .com, .org or .net domains.

When ICANN began accepting applications for new names early this year, bids came for extensions such as .catholic, .islam and .bible. Not far behind were critics who challenged many applicants’ right to monopolize those and other religious terms.

“I respectfully ask you not to award .bible to a bunch of hardcore Bible-thumpers,” wrote one critic of an application by the American Bible Society to manage that extension.

Questioning a Turkish IT company’s bid for the .islam domain, Fahd Batayneh of Jordan’s National Information Technology Centre asked how it could ensure no pornographers or Muslim extremists would use names with this ending?

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is accepting comments on these and other applications for another month and will then evaluate the bids for new extensions, known as top level domains (TLDs).

First results are due next summer. A group awarded a TLD can manage that domain exclusively, renting out addresses that use its extension and rejecting bids it considers unsuitable. Via Stuff NZ

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