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Chinese '.catholic' will be the first top-level domain considered in ICANN expansion

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Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

The extension .catholic, written in Chinese, will be the first name considered in a new expansion to the internet's top-level domain system. ICANN, which manages the domain name system, held a random draw to determine the order of bids it would consider for approval in its scheme, which took applications earlier this year. The top spot went to ".天主教," a Chinese translation of "Catholic Church." Various applications, a Korean Samsung one, and a Chinese Wal-Mart top-level domain also scored spots in the top 25. A low bid number broadly means the application could be approved sooner — around 2,000 applications received numbers. However, there's still the possibility that complaints or disputes over who should control the domain will delay individual applications.

Overall, this means that ICANN has taken another step towards opening up the top-level domain system to individual companies, countries, religions, or groups. Amazon, for instance, is applying for the ".play" domain (the first English-language extension to be discussed in this process), and Google and Microsoft will be vying for control of ".docs." Other top-level domain names, like .art or .islam, have prompted discussion over who should control them or whether they should be granted at all. Reuters reports that decisions on some TLDs could be made early next year, noting that non-Latin domains were prioritized in the draw.