Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

WHO's Plan for Internet Health Domain Halted

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

WHO's Plan for Internet Health Domain Halted

Article excerpt

At its meeting in Los Angeles in mid-November the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that manages the labels or "domains" people use to identify their Internet sites, did not give the go-ahead to a WHO proposal for a new "top-level" domain for health. If accepted, the proposal, WHO believes, would have made it easier for people to find reliable health information on the Web.

Top-level domains are the three-letter labels that come at the end of an Internet site's address and denote the type of activity of the site owner. Up to now there had been only seven top-level domains, and they had reigned unchallenged over the past two decades. The three commonest top-level domains --".com" (commercial firms), ".net" (networking companies) and ".org" (non-profit organizations) -- are used by more than 24 million sites (rs only 7000 in 1992 and an expected 160 million by 2003).

ICANN decided in June to open the gates to proposals for new top-level domains. It received 47 applications, coveting a variety of sites. Each applicant has to pay a US$ 50 000 fee but, if accepted, can collect fees from anyone registering a web site on its domain. At its meeting, the ICANN board decided to accept seven new top-level domains identifying businesses, business cooperatives, information, the aviation industry, museums, professionals and individuals. At this writing, the reasons for ICANN's failure to accept WHO's proposal for a ". …

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