JEREMY HOBSON: Today the global organization that coordinates Internet names made a change we’ll all see soon. The group called ICANN — or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — will allow websites to end with cities or brands come next year. So instead of .com or .gov, you can have .Google or .Chicago.
The BBC’s Mariko Oi joins us now from Singapore where the decision came down to talk about this. Good morning.
MARIKO OI: Good morning.
HOBSON: Well, how will this change the way that we use the Internet?
OI: Well, it’s not going to change how we use the Internet, but it’s more about the companies maximizing their online presence. So at the moment, anyone can register to have a website. So I was curious and I checked out BBC.net and BBC.org, and it takes you to a totally random website, which has nothing to do with the British Broadcasting Corporation. But now, the companies can have their own domain names. So for example, .BBC, and that way they can actually protect their brands.
HOBSON: And will any company be able to sign up for whatever domain name they want?
OI: No, you do have to show that you have a pretty legitimate claim to the name that you’re buying. And it also won’t come cheap. It’s got a price tag of $185,000 just to apply. So, it doesn’t come cheap, so you can’t just randomly apply.
HOBSON: Were companies lobbying for this? Who wanted this change?
OI: Companies did want this change, and this discussion has been going on for more than five years. And there have been strong calls, but at the same time, it’s a very controversial debate as well. Because some people say that it can confuse the Internet users, but companies of which want to make sure that they can protect their own brand names and have their own website with their own domain names, they have been calling for it and I guess for them it’s a victory.
HOBSON: The BBC’s Markio Oi in Singapore. Thank you so much for joining us.
OI: Thank you.
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