ICANN Plans to Revoke Outdated Suffixes

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

Over the past few years, the Internet has seen new domain names such as ".eu" for Europe and ".travel" for the travel industry. Now, the key oversight agency is looking to get rid of some.

Meeting in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers began accepting public comments this week on how best to revoke outdated suffixes, primarily assigned to countries that no longer exist.

The Soviet Union's ".su" is the leading candidate for deletion, although the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro are transitioning from ".yu" to their own country codes. A Google search generated millions of ".su" and ".yu" sites.

East Timor now uses ".tl," though about 150,000 sites remain under its older code, ".tp."

Also obsolete is Great Britain's ".gb," which produced no sites on Google. Britons typically use ".uk" for the United Kingdom.

ICANN assigns country codes based on standards set by the International Organization for Standardization, which in turn takes information from the United Nations.

Conflicts can potentially occur when codes are reassigned.

Czechoslovakia didn't need ".cs" after it split into the Czech Republic (".cz") and Slovakia (".sk"). Serbia and Montenegro got ".cs" following the breakup of Yugoslavia, before further splitting into Serbia (".rs") and Montenegro (".me"). (In this case, a crisis was averted because Czechoslovakia let go of ".cs" long before it was reassigned, and Serbia and Montenegro never used it before splitting up.)

A few other domains have already disappeared, including East Germany's ".dd" and Zaire's ".zr" after the country became the Democratic Republic of the Congo (".cd").

ICANN wants to establish a formal policy and is accepting comments online until Jan. 31. Further deletions will likely take a year or longer to give users time to change.

Reductions in the number of domains -- now 265 -- are likely to be temporary. ICANN is crafting rules on how to roll out additional domains, including ones in non-English characters.

ICANN also is launching a review of eligibility rules for ".int," a domain reserved for international organizations.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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