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The ‘.bit’ domain, a new decentralized domain structure, has secured a small but loyal following, and could one day change the way brands operate online. .bit registrations are not associated with a name, address, or phone number, but are linked to a cryptographic identity, preserving anonymity. Unlike customary domains – such as ‘.com’ – ‘.bit’ cannot be accessed from traditional web browsers or registered using traditional currency. Instead, individuals attempting to gain access to these domains must first download specialized software that allows access to the sites using Windows browsers, and pay for the registration with a crypto currency called Namecoin.
In June 2008 ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit technical coordination body for the Internet’s name and numbering systems, made headlines when it announced that it would allow an unlimited number of new gTLDs (generic top level domain names) to populate the web. While the process has been delayed several times, the current belief is that ICANN will begin accepting applications for these new gTLDs by July or August of 2011. However, many in the industry expect the start of the application process to be delayed further, as various trademark organizations have raised concerns about the award and dispute resolution process.