ICANN’s new Generic Top-level Domain Name (gTLD) programme is due to launch before the end of the year. However, there have been several recent issues surrounding the programme, the accumulation of which may affect this start date, and the programme as a whole.

The new gTLDs will offer a wide variety of generic top-level domain names which will be used by businesses to establish and maintain a more targeted online presence (see our previous article here). To date, ICANN reports that over 1,900 new gTLD applications have been submitted, with the majority unsurprisingly originating in North America and Europe. But the programme, which has already seen its launch delayed several times, is faced with minor issues, that could combine to cause another delay.

ICANN recently announced that applicants will be obliged to adhere to certain security standards if they wish to operate a new gTLD. Under a new Registry Agreement, gTLD operators will be required to implement the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) standard. This security protocol assigns a digital signature to a certain website and uses that signature to validate that the correct website is returned to users when searched for. These security requirements are yet another additional cost for potential gTLD operators and may result in some applications being withdrawn.

gTLD applications for certain words with geographical origins have also encountered issues recently. The Governmental Advisory Committee of ICANN has recommended that Amazon.com not be allowed to register the .amazon domain name, following objections from several Latin American countries through which the Amazon River flows. The objections are based on the argument that a single entity should not be allowed to register geographical indicators. This same argument saw Patagonia, Inc. withdraw its application for .patagonia.

The first of the new gTLDs could be online by the end of the year, but minor issues such as these could cause problems for applicants and result in yet further delays to the programme.