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The dark side of Internet domains with emoticons

Posted by: | Posted on: October 20, 2017
dot registry

Domain name experts on the Internet point out that similarities between emoticons can lead to uncertainty and lack of legal certainty. Standardization could save this problem.

The evolution of the Internet and its impact on the global market has caused a rapid evolution of domain terminations. The. com,. net or. org flooded the Web for years. Then came the geographical references, such as the. es or. ue. Finally, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Domain Numbers (Icann) decided to make a big leap forward by incorporating hundreds of new names focusing on business sectors, professions or generic terms, such as. bank,. abogado or. auto.

Now, it looks like the next frontier will be domain names that include emojis, the familiar icons commonly used in instant messaging conversations. However, this new possibility, which would radically increase the number of names for web pages on the Internet, does not seem to convince the experts.

In fact, the Icann’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) has issued a negative report specifying that the inclusion of these types of figures could end up creating “problems of legal certainty as factors such as similarities or confusion for users may arise”, which would lower the level of intrinsic security afforded by domain names.

Ignacio Temiño, managing partner of Abril Abogados, points out that, although the Icann has always had an expansive policy to avoid the collapse of domain name petitions, in this case, it observes a clear problem of legal security. “The main issue raised by the SSAC report is the lack of standardization, since not all software recognizes emoticons, certain emojis have different skin tones, are not visualized in the same way in operating systems, which causes a clear uncertainty.

Despite these warnings and opposing opinions, there are territories such as Laos (. la) or Samoa (. ws) that allow the registration of domains with emoticons, as can be seen in marketing campaigns of companies such as Coca-Cola or Norwegian Airlines. “These countries have decided not to be guided by the same rules as apply in the other territories. They let you do what is not allowed anywhere else and have become strange computer destinations for many websites. For that reason, it’s not a good idea to register there, because the conflict resolution systems don’t work like they do in the rest of the world either,”Temiño says.

However, the lawyer does not bury domain names definitively with emoticons. The fact that the SSAC shows all the technical and computer-related drawbacks of these new names could be a starting point for them to become a reality.

“The essential aspect for the urls with emojis to become habitual is standardization and saving the current technical problems. The manufacturers and developers of software, computers and smartphones have to agree on a unique code that recognizes these figures, something that is not unthinkable, since they have already done so with the creation of Unicode, a standard of character encoding that facilitates the transmission and visualization of texts,”says Temiño.

The expert also points out that this standardization would be essential to resolve other types of conflicts. “There are more and more brand registrations that contain emoticons. And, what will happen if a company with this type of name requests a domain with emojis that has already been registered by someone else? If it is not resolved, there will be problems as there were at the beginning of the Internet era.





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