For a long time, the only domain names I knew of were .com, .net and .org. And for a long time, these were the only domain names that anyone really saw need of. After all, aren't the possibilities of website names to put before those suffixes pretty much endless? Apparently not.
Earlier this year, the organization that oversees the creation and implementation of new domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
, began accepting applications for new domain names to supplement the ones already in existence and to give more opportunity for web expansion. While some of the submissions have been fairly harmless, it's been religious-themed domain names that have caused some of the biggest controversy.
For example, the Vatican has applied for exclusive use of the domain name .catholic, which, according to a Reuters article by Tom Heneghan
, drew criticism from Protestant groups who translate the word "catholic" differently than the Catholic church. The move by the American Bible Society to apply for the rights to .bible has also received criticism.
Christian groups aren't the only ones vying for these domain names. The .islam extension was applied for by a Turkish IT company, a move which, Heneghan points out, concerned Fahd Batayneh of Jordan's National Information Technology Centre, who questioned "how it could ensure no pornographers or Muslim extremists would use names with this ending?"
Some groups are also concerned about domain names that suggest "immoral" lifestyles, such as .porn, .sex, and others.
In the end, ICANN isn't an organization that exists to solve disputes among religious groups -- disputes that in some cases have been around for centuries. The organization hopes to find solutions that will appease everyone, but when such a deep and personal subject such as religion is involved, it's hard to imagine everyone will walk away from the table happy.Do you think there can be a solution to the debate over these domain names? Do you think the rights to these domain names should be shared by groups or controlled by one entity? Is this a problem that Christian groups should avoid being involved in, or do they have the right to fight for domain names that they feel represent them?