ICANN rules out “dot-less” domain names due to potential risks

dotless-domains-for-googleUS-based ICANN has today issued a media alert stating that “dot-less” domain names would not be issued in the on-going gTLD round following the body’s New gTLD Programme Committee (NGPC) meeting held on August 13.

Dotless domain names are those that consist of a single label – examples being   http://example or mail@example among others.

Note that the examples have nothing after the word “example” as is usually the case – for instance, we are more familiar with domains like “http://example.com” or “mail@example.com”

According to ICANN’s NGPC, dot-less names would require the inclusion of, for example, an A, AAAA, or MX, record in the apex of a TLD zone in the DNS (that is, the record relates to the TLD-string itself).

In order to reach the decision, the NGPC sought public comments on the issue as well as the security and stability risks associated with dot-less domain names.

The move to prohibit dot-less domains is the culmination of several events. These include the ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) published SAC 053: SSAC Report on Dotless Domains issued in February 2012 which stated that dotless domains would not be universally reachable and recommended strongly against their use. As a result, the SSAC recommended that the use of DNS resource records such as A, AAAA, and MX in the apex of a Top-Level Domain (TLD) should be contractually prohibited where appropriate, and strongly discouraged in all cases.

On July 10, 2013, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) released a statement on dotless domain names recommending against the use of dotless domain names for TLDs.

This was followed on July 29, 2013 by Carve Systems which delivered a report on dotless domain names commissioned by ICANN which identified security and stability issues.

“When adopting its resolution, the NGPC considered the security and stability risks identified in these papers, as well as the impracticality of mitigating these risks. Based on the NGPC resolution, ICANN does not plan to pursue any additional studies on the subject,” states the release.

The decision deals a final blow to various “dot-less” domain applicants – including Google (with its “.search”) as well as Donurt and UniRegistry that has applied for hundreds of names in this gTLD round.

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