2009 seems to be an exciting year for the domain name field and the development of the Internet in general. Important processes on the global arena will probably have decisive impact on our national domain name business. In addition several national initiatives will be of great importance.
The statement which says that Internet is becoming increasingly more important for our daily life is getting to be more and more of a reality. We do our shopping on the web, we communicate with friends, watch films and TV programmes that we missed, and we manage our financial affairs. But the web does not only affect us on a broader field; we are also getting more dependent of the web and the possibilities that are available, and the web comes closer to us - for better and for worse.
More need for knowledge
Despite of this, the knowledge on what the Internet is, how it works and how it affects us is quite limited. And if possible the knowledge and consciousness on domain name issues are even lower. What does the address I see in my browser really mean? Does it mean anything if the address has a .no extension instead of .com? Is one "neighbourhood" on the Internet more unsecure than another one?
Serious illegalities are committed on the web, and people ask themselves how such things can be stopped. The very first step is to find out who is responsible for the web-site. For top level domain registries which are run properly, this information can be easily obtained by anybody. It is therefore important that Norid improves information and guidelines when it comes to these possibilities.
Safe use even more important
We cannot claim that Norwegian domain names are safe. However, behind a .no domain name you will find a Norwegian holder, and the web address itself is under Norwegian legislation. Unfortunately, however, it is not that simple, as the content of the web-site might be located on a Pacific island. Even so, the one who is legally responsible for the web-site is Norwegian and can be identified with a couple of keystrokes. For Norwegian domain names we can even guarantee that some addresses really are safer than others, for instance within the cathegory kommune.no. Fore these addresses you can be sure that you actually access the web-site of a Norwegian council (kommune). Everything points to the fact that issues regarding safe use of the web and tracking of those responsible for web-sites will be even more important in the future.
New scheme for generic top level domains (gTLDs)
It is worth noticing that ICANN, who has the overall responsibility for the Internet address space, has decided to open for a new scheme of generic top level domains. Up to now the address space has been organized in a very easy-to-understand way. There are the country codes, like .no and .se, around 260 in total. In addition there are 20 generic top level domains, such as .com and .net. During 2009 ICANN will introduce a scheme which means that practically anything can be registered as a top level domain. Google can for instance register .google as an alternative to google.com, and thus control all addresses that are registered within this branch of the address space.
At the moment ICANN is working on descriptions and procedures for the new scheme, so it is not yet clear what the changes will mean. A crucial question is related to how the division between generic and country code top level domains will be maintained when .norge, .norwegen, .noruega, .nor etc. can be registered. The consequence might be that .no no longer gives an unabigous signal of Norwegian affiliation and control. And will huge enterprises see any interest in registering their names or brands directly in the root zone, as for instance .google? What advantages and drawbacks will that have for different groups, and especially for ordinary Internet users? This new service will have an entrance cost of 185,000 USD for top level domain applicants. How can ICANN secure that the developing countries are not prevented from participation, while at the same time get the costs related to these extensive developing prosesses covered?
Norwegian domain names for Kari and Ola
On the national arena we are working to open the .no domain for private individuals - you and me. This is an extensive change of the Norwegian domain name policy, and many parties must get the opportunity to give their opinion on the process in order to secure a result that will be as good as possible for as many as possible. Norid's role is to run the domain name policy process orderly, and in turn handle the technical and practical implementation.
Without further ado we state that knowledge about what a web address means and not means will be even more important for all web users in the future, regardless of having their own domain name or not. Norid has the ambition to contribute to increase the knowledge on these issues both among experts and ordinary web users. We are sure that 2009 will be a very interesting year.
Hilde M. Thunem