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ICANN: .gay and .islam could be in use by next year

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) says that it will unveil the first round of new domain suffixes for use by May 2013.

The Internet name regulator has received 1,930 applications for new suffixes since June including .bet, .islam and .gay as alternatives to existing generic top-level domain (gTLD) names such as .com and It originally announced the creation of the new Internet naming system last year.

The Government Advisory Committee (GAC), a panel representing about 50 of the world's governments, has been vetting objections to the proposed new names. The agency will decide in April which of the suffixes warrant formal complaints and they will only be added to the register if no other members of GAC object to their inclusion.

Objections raised by GAC will not be binding on net address regulator ICANN but the organisation must produce "well reasoned arguments" if it decides to deny any requests.

So far the complaints, published on the GAC's website, have been related to suffixes such as .roma, .islam, .patagonia, .africa and .zulu.

One concern is that some companies are seeking exclusives terms or broad religious terms.

"What that means is that they are worried about things like Google running .search, or Amazon running .book.They are also indicating [problems with] religious terms there have been some applications for .islam, .bible and .church," Bruce Tonkin, vice-chair on ICANN's board, told the BBC.

"The question is whether the people affected by the word .islam, for instance, broadly support the application or not - and that's always going to be hard because a local mosque may support you, but it's hard to say you have the backing of a global religion," he added.

Many companies have already applied for exclusive use of suffixes, with Amazon requesting .app, .book, .movie, .game and .mail, among others. Meanwhile Google has predictably requested .search and .cloud and Symantec has asked for .antivirus.

Others include .baby by Johnson & Johnson, while L'Oreal is hoping for .beauty, .hair, .makeup, .salon and .skin.