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gTLD (generic top-level domain name)

A gTLD (generic top-level domain name) is the top-level domain name of an Internet address that identifies it generically as associated with some domain class, such as .com (commercial), .net (originally intended for Internet service providers, but now used for many purposes), .org (for non-profit organizations, industry groups, and others), .gov (U.S. government agencies), .mil (for the military), .edu (for educational institutions); and .int (for international treaties or databases and not much used). For example, in the domain name, www.ibm.com, .com is the chosen gTLD. In addition to the gTLD, there is the ccTLD (country code top-level domain name) that identifies a specific national domicile for an address. (For instance, .fr for France and .mx for Mexico.)

In November 2000, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), a Los Angeles-based non-profit group that oversees the distribution of domain names, approved seven additional gTLDs. The new gTLDs are .biz, restricted to businesses; .info, open to anyone; .name, for personal registrations; .pro, for licensed professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants; .aero, for anything related to air transport; .museum, for museums; and .coop, for co-operative businesses such as credit unions. The group selected these new gTLDs from among more than 40 proposed suffixes. It rejected gTLDs such as .kid, .site, .xxx, .home, .dot, and .site. ICANN is currently negotiating registry agreements with the gTLD applicants it chose.

Proponents of adding new gTLDs argue that they are easy to create and free up new space for Internet addresses. Those opposed say more gTLDs only lead to confusion and pose an increased risk of trademark infringement, cybersquatting, and cyberpiracy.

ICANN has approved several organizations to register domain names for individuals and businesses. The group has not yet accredited anyone to pre-register names in any of the new gTLDs, and those attempting it do so at their own risk.

This was last updated in September 2005

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