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Complaints over dot-word web extensions flood in

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has objected to the proposed new top-level internet domains .virgin and .baby – applied for by Virgin Group and Johnson & Johnson respectively – on the grounds that they will encourage pornography.

The bizarre claims are among 163 complaints about new dot-word gTLD applications that the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission has filed with domain name gatekeeper ICANN over the last few days.

“We consider there is a risk that this string is used in the same way as .XXX to host pornographic websites,” the commission wrote in its objection to Johnson & Johnson's .baby application.

The J&J bid, which was among 1,930 applications for new web address extensions received by ICANN earlier this year (six of which were for .baby), specifically states that it would be reserved for the company's own marketing purposes, which presumably would not entail child-abuse material.

Virgin's application for .virgin is also for a so-called “dot-brand” or “single-registrant” gTLD. The company does not plan to sell .virgin domain names to regular punters, so the chances of it hosting pornography are pretty slim.

The Saudi government has also objected to gTLD applications relating to alcohol and gambling – .wine, .vodka, .casino, .poker, .bar and .pub – on “moral” and health grounds.

“We are concerned that the gTLD strings will be used to promote and glamorise the consumption of alcohol which, in turn, is responsible for the prevalence of alcohol-related disease and a range of social ills,” the commission stated in its objection to .bar.

On .casino, it said: “This application is sensitive as the applied-for gTLD string is likely to be used to promote a practice which is detrimental to public order and morals and prohibited in a number of religions and cultures.”

It also wants ICANN to rejects bids for gTLD strings potentially related to sex and romance: it's objected to .dating, .hot, .sex, .porn, .sexy and .gay.

“Many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to their culture, morality or religion,” the commission wrote. “The creation of a gTLD string which promotes homosexuality will be offensive to these societies and cultures.”

Some of its objections are purely religious in nature. It's objected to .catholic, .bible, .islam, .halal and others. The applications for .tattoo, .sucks and .wtf also receive negative comments.

Since 13 June, over 6,000 comments have been filed with ICANN, mostly objecting to applied-for gTLDs on moral or trademark-protection grounds. Almost 800 of these comments were filed against applications for .sex, .porn and .adult by .xxx manager ICM Registry, following a campaign by US-based religious campaign group Morality In Media.

Companies including Tiffany, Heinz and Sunkist have filed hundreds of objections against gTLD applications that they think will not do enough to protect their trademark rights.

ICANN will forward any comment received before 26 September to the independent evaluators, who are poring over all 1,930 gTLD bids. The comment window was extended on Friday from its planned closing date of 12 August after complaints from deluged brand owners.

But the commenting system itself, which comes with its own manual, has come in for criticism for being too complicated, as this YouTube video from Michele Neylon of Irish domain name registrar Blacknight Solutions attempts to explain.

In Argentina, where there's a huge outcry about a dot-brand bid for .patagonia, the local domain registry has even put together a how-to guide showing net users how to object.

In this humble hack's opinion, the fact that not a single blogger has so far commented on Google's plan to launch .blog as an in-house single-registrant name-space for its Blogger service shows how little attention the world is paying to the programme. ®

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