'.asia' agreement signed


The '.asia' Registry Agreement was signed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the eventual registry operator, DotAsia, at the ICANN meeting in Brazil last month. It is expected that the demand for '.asia' domain names will be equally as high, if not in excess of, the demand for '.eu' domain names, over 2 million of which have been registered to date.

'.asia' will be aimed at individuals or organizations based in Asia, rather like '.eu' is intended for those with a presence within the European Union. According to recent estimates, over 60% of the world's population resides in Asia, (over 4 billion people), and over 90 languages are spoken. More than four times as many people will thus be eligible to register '.asia' domain names as opposed to '.eu' domain names.

As there is no effective equivalent to the European Union in Asia, it is expected that registrants of '.asia' domain names will need to have a presence in one of the 73 countries defined by ICANN as being in the Asia/Australia/Pacific region. This region currently encompasses a large geographical area from Turkey through the Middle East and India (taking in certain former Eastern Bloc countries such as Tajikistan) to China, Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia. Broadly speaking it appears therefore that a presence anywhere other than Europe, North and South America, Africa and Russia will be sufficient to register a '.asia' domain name.

On a related note, ICANN recently announced that it was going to undertake a review of its methodology for allocating specific countries and territories to its five particular regions, namely Europe; Asia/Australia/Pacific; Latin America/Caribbean; Africa and North America. Issues arise, for example, when dependent territories are placed in an ICANN region associated with country or citizenship, rather than the geographical region where they are actually physically located. For example the Cayman Islands ('.ky') are physically located in the Caribbean but are classed by ICANN as being in Europe because they are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. However, it has yet to be seen whether any of ICANN's eventual reallocations will affect the potential right of a particular country's residents to register a '.asia' domain name.

David Taylor and Jane Seager, Lovells, Paris

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