ICANN: RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SECURITY, STABILITY, AND GLOBAL COORDINATION OF THE INTERNET’S SYSTEM OF UNIQUE IDENTIFIERS
A not-for-profit, public benefit corporation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization responsible for Web addresses throughout the world, helps preserve the operational stability of the Internet, promotes competition, and ensures broad representation of the global Internet community.
ICANN is responsible for coordinating the management of the technical elements of the Domain Name System (DNS), which replaces Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (e.g., 176.183.02.201) with more easily remembered strings of letters (domain names or Web addresses), making it much easier to surf the Net and send e-mails. ICANN has an international staff and is governed by an internationally diverse board of directors overseeing the policy development process and ensuring that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.
In 2005, ICANN began a policy development process to consider the introduction of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) that would significantly increase the number of top-level generic suffixes. Approved in 2008, this unprecedented program offered Québec an invaluable opportunity to enter this market.
A TURNING POINT: THE ARRIVAL OF .CAT
Since 2000, ICANN has accepted only 14 new generic top-level domains, including the first Linguistic and Cultural Top-Level Domain- lcTLD): .CAT, created for the Catalan community. Since its introduction, this suffix has gained steadily in popularity. Today there are some 46 million Catalan pages with a .CAT suffix, and there is four times as much content on sites with a .CAT suffix as on Catalan sites ending in .COM. It is worth mentioning that Québec and Catalonia have many social issues in common, including questions of language and identity. The popularity of .CAT thus bodes well for .QUEBEC. The Catalan precedent has served as a role model for many cultural and linguistic communities throughout the world that hope one day to obtain their own suffixes with a strong regional and identity value.
NEW SUFFIXES: A REVOLUTION!
The first wave of requests for new top-level generic suffixes dates back to 1999; these included .INFO and .BIZ, which went on-line two years later. A second opportunity arose in 2003, when ICANN again initiated a process to introduce new suffixes. A growing number of organizations were arguing in favour of increasing the number of suffixes to meet the needs of various populations. Many ideas were proposed, including that of .CAT, which went on-line in 2006.
Two years later, in 2008, ICANN once again showed itself to be open to the many requests for new suffixes, announcing that it would consider implementing new gTLDs. Communities wishing to obtain a new Internet identity immediately began filing applications and working to foster awareness at ICANN. In all, 1,930 applications for new suffixes were filed, including that of PointQuébec.
This process is both expensive and complex, however, since the creation of new suffixes is subject to many strict rules.