As you may recall from prior posts on this blog, there has been significant interest in the new gTLDs (e.g. foo.microsoft, foo.docs) and proposals from Google to allow one of their gTLD applications (.search) to function as a dotless domain (e.g. http//search). This ask was in sharp contrast to the report from ICANN’s own Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC), that said dotless was a bad idea.
Microsoft and many others in the industry (including Yahoo, Verisign) expressed concerns in allowing dotless domains on the Internet. The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) published a public statement, noting the relevant standards published by the IETF RFCs and supporting ICANN SSAC's report SAC053 as
"a reasonable summary of the technical problems that arise from the implementation of dotless domains."
And a further study directed by ICANN (from Carve Systems here) arrived at the same conclusions as the SSAC. In it, Carve supported SSAC 053 that dotless domains would not be universally reachable, and serious security vulnerabilities exist and would be enabled by allowing such use. It concluded the
"inherent trust in dotless names, by users and software, may lead to confusion when handling new Internet facing dotless domains. This confusion can result in unexpected behavior and a misappropriation of trust, ultimately degrading the stability and security of the Internet."
The "broad theme" of dotless domain names is accurate, and significant issues exist with current and legacy software and services that follow the tradition of using dotless names exclusive in the intranet space. Dotless domains are used as a core part of many intranet networks, and as such there would be serious implications and repercussions related to their use. To address some of the "technology confusion" raised in the report, Microsoft and many others in the industry have provided guidance for developers, service providers and enterprises to use unambiguous Fully Qualified Domain Names to specify locations in the tree hierarchy of the DNS. So, after many months, I was happy to read recently that ICANN’s New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) passed a resolution definitively rejecting the push for dotless domains. This was also supported by ICANN’s board, as announced last week. You can read more about how ICANN rejected the request to support dotless generic top-level domains on the Internet in Charlie Osborne's article here on ZDnet.