A bid to save you even more time when you're trying to hit up your favourite sites on the web has officially been quashed by the Internet overlords.
We're speaking, of course, about the recent decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to officially put the "no" to Google's proposal for "dotless domain names."
The phrase is pretty self-explanatory even if the news itself doesn't ring a bell. Here's the quick, bigger backstory: Google representatives shipped a letter off to ICANN in April of this year, shedding a bit more light on the company's proposal to create a new dotless domain system out of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that Google had previous applied to manage. In effect, the move would allow users to type these common Internet "words" into their web browser to produce a desired effect.
For example, slapping "http://search/" into one's browser and hitting Enter could conceivably allow a person to jump right to their search engine of choice. No, Google wouldn't somehow connive its way into defaulting "search" to good old Google dot com – as much as the company might prefer that outcome above others.
It's a little less clear how Google's other proposed dotless domains might have functioned — .app, .blog, and .cloud — given the more generic applicability of those gTLDs. Presumably, they would also function as shortcuts of-sorts, directing a user to his or her preferred blogging platform, app store, or cloud service.
"First, users navigating to domains within the TLD should reasonably expect to reach a blog when they access a .blog domain name. Second, it should be simple and easy for .blog registrants to associate their second-level domain with their blog on the blogging platform of their choice," described Google policy manager Sarah Falvey in the April letter.
So, why did ICANN shoot the proposal down? Security and stability risks identified as part of a commissioned study into dotless domain names made up the core of ICANN's argument.
As described within a recent report from ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), dotless domain names could produce "unpredictable results" within a variety of various applications, as a result of how these apps normally process "shorthand" or "abbreviated" domain names. In other words, the lack of a conventional domain name address could lead to a bit of confusion within an app.
The SSAC outlined a few additional scenarios in which more technological troubles could occur when various systems or processes are provided with a dotless domain name, including the very process by which email is transmitted and received.
"One serious and prevalent concern is that dotless domains would not work with protocols that specify additional rules of what constitutes a legal domain. The most prominent example is the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to deliver electronic mail. It requires at least two labels in the FQDN of a mail address. Thus standard-compliant mail servers would reject emails to addresses such as user@brand," reads the SSAC's report.
As for security, the SSAC report noted that dotless domain names could disrupt a "longstanding assumption" that could give these names looser security standards than what they might otherwise enjoy as "common" websites.
"In Windows, for instance, this means that a dotless host may be considered to be in the Intranet zone, and is accorded the security privileges conveyed to sites in that zone," the report reads.
As well, dotless domain names could mess up HTTPS certification and organisations' proxy-based internal routing, as well as the very DNS lookup activity that allows for modern "Web browsing" to begin with. Modern policies related to the domain name lookup system could, in some cases, block out these dotless domains completely.