Internet group to cut .il websites still partying like it's 1999

Party over. Oops, out of time!

April 1, 2015 17:20
3 minute read.
No laptop

No laptop. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Party over. Oops, out of time!

The Prince lyric is strikingly apt for Israeli websites registered before 1999, some of which may be taken down in the coming weeks.

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The Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL) has embarked on a crusade to purge squatters from Israeli domain names (website addresses ending in .il) that were registered before the last year of the 1900s.

The reason? Then, people could register .il websites with no renewal fees. Those who were fortunate enough to get their websites registered back then may have been able to keep domains for more than 15 years without paying to re-register them. That is not only true of websites in use, but “abandoned” websites as well: those that were registered but feature no content.

“Our goal is to make the Israeli Internet space equal for all users,” says Dina Beer, managing director at ISOCIL.

Before 1999, she explains, people had to simply register once with the Inter-University Computation Center.

“At that time, nobody in the world knew what the future of the Internet would be.”

Of the roughly 230,000 .il domains registered, just 9,000 predate the change in renewal rules. ISOC-IL is trying to take stock of those websites and free them up to the market of people who can actually use them. The group set up a website, 1999., with an appropriately Passover-themed slogan, “Let my go,” where people can check if the domain name they’ve always wanted is among the 9,000 stuck in last-century legal limbo.

The task of finding and purging the old domains to make them available is a legally and logistically complex one, Beer says, which is why the group is asking members of the public to speak up on the domain names they want to purchase using the website. The money raised by registering new websites, she adds, would go toward improving Israel’s Internet infrastructure.

Domain names are an important part of branding for companies, products and public figures, and have given rise to a small industry of domain name speculation.

Imagine for a moment that the J-Town Post Office in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, had bought the domain name before the Jerusalem Post got a hold of it. It would be able to sell it at a handsome profit, or force the newspaper to look for alternatives such as the clunkier

Domain name speculators buy up a host of available Web addresses they think someone else will eventually need, and jack up the price when that person or company comes knocking.

The dominance of .com as the suffix of choice has created scarcity and overcrowding in the world of domains, so new suffixes are popping up as alternatives. Web addresses ending in .co, .tv, .biz, .xyz, and even odder ones such as .limo and .ninja are coming onto the market (but don’t expect to get your news updates on anytime soon).

Those worried about their brands have begun taking preventative steps to stave off detractors.

US singer Taylor Swift, for example, recently bought the domain TaylorSwift.Porn, presumably to ensure that nobody else fills that space with unflattering content, or any content at all.

When New York City-specific web suffix .nyc came onto the market, former mayor Michael Bloomberg bought up more than 400 such domains that were relevant to his name.

Some, such as bloombergf a m i ly , appeared poised for real use or were needed to prevent frauds from taking them over. Others were more clearly defensive purchases., and are all off the market.

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