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ICANN warns about alt-root blockchain domain names

Organization is worried that consumers will be confused.

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ICANN has published a warning to consumers about alt-root domain names.

Alt-root domains are domain names that aren’t compatible with the existing domain name system (DNS). They require special software or browsers in order to resolve.

Attempts at creating top level domains that compete against the main DNS have been around for decades. The latest iterations are blockchain-based domains such as Handshake and Unstoppable Domains.

ICANN manages the process for adding “real” top level domains to the DNS.

ICANN warns that many consumers might not understand these alt-root domains and how they work. While blockchain fans understand what they are doing when creating a domain in these systems, some domain registrars are now selling alt-root domains directly to the public alongside regular top level domains.

I suspect that blockchain enthusiasts will retort that ICANN is merely trying to dissuade people from using the competition. But ICANN has reason to be worried about consumer confusion. The typical consumer probably doesn’t understand exactly what they’re getting. This extends beyond alt-root domains as well. I’m sure many consumers were surprised to learn that the third-level domains they bought from registrars that looked like country code domains were anything but.

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Author: Andrew Allemann

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