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Internet group invites public comment on new domain names

(CNN) -- What's in a name? In the crowded world of the Internet it has become a precious commodity. The top-level domain names, like dot-com, have run out of room due to the Internet's rampant growth.

But that's about to change as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) considers a variety of proposals for new domains.

It's a challenge that the group's chairwoman, Esther Dyson, says ICANN will try and solve as part of its international mandate for naming Internet sites.

ICANN's Web site has just published the corporate submissions it has received and for the next two weeks is inviting public comment.

Some of the names being considered by ICANN include dot-art, dot-digital, dot-news, dot-security, dot-cash and dot-kids.

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"We try to reflect Internet opinion and not go off half-cocked," Dyson said.

But it's a political and commercial minefield. Dyson's group will need to find a way to protect huge corporate investments in an Internet environment best known for "anything goes."

The need for new domain names is comparable to the urban sprawl in many congested U.S. cities, which are now bulging at the seams. But unlike cities, which must re-zone existing land to expand, the Internet can simply create new areas cyberspace and build new Web communities. In other words, a whole new family of "dot-somethings."

During a recent high-tech conference in Atlanta some people offered a few suggestions, including dot-beer; dot-pizza; dot-music; and dot-money. The most common proposal was for a strictly porn domain to be called dot-sex or dot-xxx.

However, not everyone was caught up by the excitement.

"I'm just too used to dot-coms right now," said one conference attendee.

ICANN is expected make its selections in mid-November.

CNN's Brian Nelson contributed to this report.



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