A group of New Zealand expats in Canada have applied with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the .kiwi domain. The US$185,000 evaluation process under ICANN's Generic Top Level Domain programme could allow the company, Dot Kiwi Ltd, to start selling websites under the .Kiwi domain as early as 2013, should ICANN approve their application. According to a statement released by the company, Dot Kiwi is registered in New Zealand but headquartered in Vancouver, and headed by CEO Tim Johnson, a Christchurch native. Directors include, Peter Dengate Thrush, a barrister specialising in intellectual property and a past chair of Internet New Zealand. The company says it will set aside income from .kiwi sales to contribute to the re-building of Christchurch, the statement claims. "I was keen to provide a way for New Zealanders around the world to connect and claim their Kiwiness online," says Johnson, according to the statement. "I could also see a great opportunity to provide on-going financial support for the re-building of Christchurch one of New Zealand's most beautiful cities and my hometown." ICANN started accepting applications for the new domains on January 12. The $185,000 fee includes a $5,000 upfront deposit, according to PC World in the US. Applications will be accepted through April 12. According to PC World, there are 22 top-level domains in existence but under the new system that figure could balloon into a dizzying number of domains,a move that has the potential to befuddle consumers and provide a gold mine for scammers. From now on anyone with deep pockets can set up their own top-level domain. For example, a multinational company could have an Internet address with a .coca-cola extension or a politician could have .mittromney instead of being saddled with a bland old .com. What's more, top-level domains will no longer need to use the Latin alphabet. They can be in Cyrillic, Arabic or any other language. While that change removes an element of Western imperialism from the Internet, it could also open the door for scammers, who have been gaming the existing Internet address system for years with alphabet legerdemain. Although no one will know how many new potential domains there could be until after ICANN's deadlines for applications have expired: March 29 for filing through the organization's top-level domain application system, April 12 for filing through other channels. Money will be a significant limiting factor, although ICANN has a financial aid program for developing nations that knocks the fee down to $47,000.
Dot Kiwi expects to cash-in on customers "wishing to be associated with New Zealand on the internet, or via their email address" giving organisations "greater choice, branding creativity and the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors, providing them an exciting way of proclaiming their identity online," the company says in the statement. A percentage of the revenue and profit before tax from the sale of .kiwi domains will be donated to a trust formed to receive, administer and distribute funds to Christchurch as they are earned and donated. The trust will be chaired by Sir John Hansen, a former judge of the New Zealand High Court. Should DOT KIWI LIMITED successfully secure the .kiwi domain, the new domain is expected to be available for individuals and organisations to purchase in early 2013.