Census-designated domain names — from a trademark, “the international community has determined as exclusive to nobody,” to “:neon,” “:bio,” and “:visible,” to name a few — reflect billions of searches by individuals from every country in the world, and are among the most thoroughly used sources of information in the world. A quick Google search on “:lookup,” “:census,” “:search,” or “:domain name” yields over one million results.
That is why when the first domain names — amid the more than 200,000 domain names that have been registered for this unique system of government websites — began appearing in ICANN’s official records in 2006, they took real market interest and represented the most significant launch to date.
The “:Census,” for example, is now registered by over 250 domains for the benefit of over 160 million individuals worldwide. The “:lookup” domain name is also a two-billion search.
Two years later, as we near the fifteenth anniversary of the re-scheduling of the General Population Census, the process for registering new domain names has come under a renewed focus from the full ICANN Governing Council. In new recommendations presented to the council this month, the council points to a general recognition that the report of the General Population Census needs to be “rethink[ed],” particularly if renewed census updates are required, and that the remitting registry should play a greater role in supervising the assignment of new domain names.
“A more prominent role for the re-scheduling service (currently, implemented by the World Population Program), as well as the role of the registrar, will be very important to anticipate future changes, increase user confidence, and provide operational stability,” says the council.
And in a related recommendation, the council says that registrars, who currently have the right to register “:domain name,” should be given the choice of registering “:registrar,” and that a registry registrar could offer plans to issue “: names,” “: domains,” or “: names,” depending on the domain suffix required for their services. This, it says, would bring new names back into the field, “putting them on par with other domains, like .com and .org,” and would also allow the council “to realize an ideal situation for a virus.”
As is clear to anyone who knows how to Google the word, a “:registrar” could be any word that commands a letter from the block,” says the report. But, and here’s the magic, in such a plan, a “:mail” domain name could include the domain for “:mail”:[email protected] instead of “:mailmail.com,” and “:registrar” domains could include the domain for “:registrar:[email protected],” instead of “:registrar.org.”
These suggestions allow users to protect themselves from a swathe of offensive terms while at the same time providing the customers of registrars a choice in how they use their domain names. An “‘uncharacterized’ name” could even be followed by a specific suffix like “:password,” making it even harder for the to “code” another thing.
The new suggestions also come amid a growing body of evidence in support of renewed census updates.
As we have reported, city data has shown a precipitous drop in births, deaths, and marriages from 2010 to 2015, and scientists have tied the decrease in births to a decrease in the number of births to Hispanic women and those receiving welfare from public assistance. For those working on the problem, the prospects for starting to rectify this are getting more and more dire.
A change to the Census design to renew the report each ten years, like that recommended by the Governing Council, could help get the information necessary to better respond to these trends.