London eyes its own net domain

London should be the first city to have its own net domain name, either through adding '.ldn' before '.uk' or through the creation a new system of addresses that end in '.london.'

Such was the argument put forward by a mainstream press editorial that has sparked debate over whether the UK's capital deserves its own top level domain like over 240 countries.

Supporters say millions of people regard London as central to their identity and should be able to identify themselves or their business as being within the city.

They believe London's status as an international hub for technology, finance, media, fashion and sport makes the capital a country in its own right.

Giving London its own TLD would enhance its standing in time for the Olympic Games, and boost tourism beyond the £600m that the city already brings to the UK economy, they claim.

But there is concern that the divide between London and the rest of England could widen, if the capital follows the path of the European Union and gets its own net domain name.

Others say any such move would open the floodgates for other cities to claim that they too deserve an exclusive TLD, perhaps prompting regions or areas to make the same demand.

Four new TLDs - .cat, .jobs, .mobi and .travel – were recently launched by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

The California-based organisation will accept applications for new domain names – such as TLDs for a city or country – later in the year.

Separately, the not-for-profit group has released a toolkit, so website designers and software developers can get software and online applications to recognise newly released addresses.

"In addition to more than 240 country code TLDs, there are also .Aero, .Biz, .Cat, .Coop, .Info, .Jobs, .Mobi, .Museum, .Name, .Pro, .Tel, .Travel. Another, .Asia, is expected to be added shortly," said Kim Davies, of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

"This choice is a good thing but some users of these new domains have had problems using e-commerce and other websites that don't recognise some new top-level domains. That means email and website addresses from some of these TLDs get rejected as invalid."

"The toolkit helps fix that problem for Internet users by making sure software developers and application providers have the most up-to-date information about the Internet's domain name system (DNS)," he added.

The code is easily inserted into existing programs or applications, and will automatically check the validity of an email address or URL against the authoritative DNS data - the 'root-zone.'

The code is available in C#, Java, Perl and Python under an open source licence from ICANN's website.

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