The Internet's key oversight agency relaxed rules today to permit the introduction of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new Internet domain names to join ".com," making the first sweeping changes in the network's 25-year-old addressing system. The panel, meeting in Paris, unanimously approved new guidelines to streamline review of proposed new suffixes; under the old rules, only 13 were approved in the last 8 years.
New names likely won't start appearing until at least next year, and the agency won't be deciding on specific ones until details are worked out, including fees, expected to exceed $100,000 apiece. The streamlined guidelines call for an initial review phase, during which anyone may raise an objection on such grounds as racism, trademark conflicts, and similarity to an existing suffix. The group also voted unanimously to open public comment on a proposal to permit addresses entirely in non-English languages for the first time.