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Wales loses 'dot-cum' domain to tax haven

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The organisation behind a bid to give the Welsh their very own top-level internet domain has been forced to rethink its plans after a rule change made its first-choice domain verboten.

DotCYM had planned to apply to ICANN next year for ".cym", pronounced "dot-cum", to represent Welsh people, language and culture globally.

But ICANN changed its rules earlier this year to set aside all internationally recognised three-letter strings that can be used to represent countries and territories. CYM, it turns out, is assigned to the Caribbean tax haven of the Cayman Islands.

Not to be deterred, DotCYM is now polling interested parties for their views on alternate strings, including .cymru, .cwl and .wales.

DotCYM is one of several organisations hoping to be assigned domains for cultural or linguistic communities when ICANN opens up its new top-level domain application process next summer.

While every nation already has an official country-code domain – the Welsh fall under .uk – there are some communities and territories that feel they could be better represented with their own entry in the domain name system.

The Catalan people, for example, have been been able to register names in the tiny .cat domain for the last few years.

In the UK, there are already moves to create .scot and .eng. On the continent, groups representing the Basque and Székely peoples are among the hopeful applicants.

Many European capitals, including London, Paris, Berlin and Rome, are also likely to back bids for city domains, such as .london and .roma.

ICANN revealed last week that it expects to open up the application period for new top-level domains next May.

Wales is not the only country to fall foul of ICANN rules recently. Earlier this year, Bulgaria had its bid for .бг, the Cyrillic version of .bg, denied on the grounds that it looks too similar to Brazil's .br. ®

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