Vatican takes first spot in Internet top level domain name draw

December 20, 2012

(The Vatican Christmas tree is lit up after a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi)

The Vatican has come out in first place in a long-awaited draw to expand the Internet address system with new domain names that go beyond the usual .com, .org or .net endings.

ICANN, the corporation that oversees the Internet address system, announced this week the domain name .catholic written in Chinese characters will be the first bid it considers in a drive to expand and reorganise sites on the World Wide Web.

The same extension in Arabic letters ranked 25th in the random draw and the Vatican’s application for a version in Cyrillic for Russian and other Slavic languages came in 96th.

Ranking high means the applicant could get approval early next year to operate the new domain and approve addresses using it. In the Vatican’s case, Rome could then ensure only genuine Roman Catholic institutions get to use that domain name.

“This is a way to give a coherence and authentication to our presence in the digital arena,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

“Anyone looking online will recognise the site belongs to an institution that belongs to the Catholic Church,” he said, adding the new, so-called top level domain names (|TLDs) could also help speed online searches.

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