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Internet overlords deny Google's 'dotless' domains dream

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The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) has issued a statement in which it all-but-rules-out Google's plan to take over some new top-level domains and offer them in “dotless” configurations that would enable web addresses like “http://search".

Google outlined its plans for .search, .app and cloud back in April. The idea of Google owning or operating the domains earned a frosty reception.

Now the IAB, a a committee of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that among other things “ … provides oversight of, and occasional commentary on, aspects of the architecture for the protocols and procedures used by the Internet” has put the kybosh on the idea.

The Board's reasons why are explained here in a statement that says “dotless domains will not work as intended by TLD operators in the vast majority of cases” because the Internet wasn't built to support them.

Such domains can work, the statement says, if organisations configure their own “search lists” to make them possible. That's even a feature of DNS, “ … because most users entering single-label names want them to be resolved in a local context, and they do not expect a single name to refer to a TLD.”

But not everyone does so, which means “dotless domains will not behave consistently across various locations”.

That leads the IAB to suggest “they have the potential to confuse users and erode the stability of the global DNS”. Worse still, dotless domains may hurt internet security. Here's why:

“By attempting to change expected behavior, dotless domains introduce potential security vulnerabilities. These include causing traffic intended for local services to be directed onto the global Internet (and vice-versa), which can enable a number of attacks, including theft of credentials and cookies, cross-site scripting attacks, etc. As a result, the deployment of dotless domains has the potential to cause significant harm to the security of the Internet.”

The Board concludes that it “believes that the current IETF recommendations against the use of dotless domains are important to the continued viability and success of the Internet, and strongly recommends that the Internet community strictly adhere to them.” ®

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