An American company is staking its claim in the future of the gay online presence.
Scott Seitz, CFO of the New York-based company dotgay LLC, was in Toronto recently to rally together local LGBT business owners in support of his company’s application for control of the generic top-level domain .gay.
Seitz’s application is one of more than 1,900 received by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) since the organization announced that it would dramatically expand the pool of existing top-level domains to include virtually any term.
Currently there are a limited number of active TLDs on the web, including .com, .net, .org and the recently added .xxx. Of the proposed domain names, suggestions have ranged from common brands and specific geographical locations (.google, .nyc) to traditional words (.book, .music). The new domains are expected to go live in 2013.
Four applicants have expressed interest in the .gay domain.
Advocates of the revised naming system see it as an opportunity to make web addresses more intuitive for both consumers and search engines, but many worry that the privatization of key symbolic terms could take the gay online presence away from the LGBT community.
“These are not community people that are buying this stuff. These are investors who have systems – crazy systems – to go out and get involved in groups that actually pull these names together and sell them in an open bid,” Seitz says. “We’re correcting it because we are going to keep it within the community.”
Part of dotgay’s plan would be to create an index directory, or “trusted namespace,” that would protect specific sub-domains like travel.gay, center.gay and pride.gay from online squatters looking to sell to the highest bidder. The company would also require community authentication for domain approval and plans to maintain a level of organizational transparency by donating 67 percent of the profits from registrations into non-profit LGBT foundations.
Although dotgay has received the support of more than 100 queer organizations worldwide, Toronto represents an important tactical step for the company. Later this month, the city will play host to a thrice-annual ICANN-hosted conference, and Seitz feels that having the visible support of local business owners could help to tip the scales in their favour.
“It’s a little bit of lobbying going on. Everybody at ICANN thinks that we are just a porn site, and we’re trying to show that it’s so much bigger than that. So our goal is to bring the community to them and introduce them to different organizations. We want to get them to understand that this is a community application, that the community is supportive of this, and that it is not a bait and switch.”
ICANN’s Toronto conference
Sun, Oct 14-Thurs, Oct 18
Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres
With dotgay LLC, members of Toronto’s queer community and members of the ICANN community
Sun, Oct 14, 6:30pm
The Westin Harbour Castle