NEW YORK — Bidding will begin this week for words and brand names such as ".sport," ".NYC" and ".bank" to join ".com" as online monikers.
Up to 1,000 domain name suffixes — the ".com" in an Internet address — could be added each year in the most sweeping change to the domain name system since its creation in the 1980s.
To some, the system will lead to ".cash." To others, it will mean ".confusion."
The idea is to let Las Vegas hotels, casinos and other attractions congregate around ".Vegas," or a company such as Canon Inc. to draw customers to "cameras.Canon" or "printers.Canon." The new system will also make Chinese, Japanese and Swahili versions of ".com" possible.
Some companies and entrepreneurs have already expressed interest in applying for a suffix and possibly earning millions of dollars a year from people and groups wanting a website that ends in that name.
Others are skeptical, though. They worry that an expansion will mean more addresses available to scams that use similar-sounding names such as "Amazom" rather than "Amazon" to trick people into giving passwords and credit card information. Others worry that new suffixes could create additional platforms for hate groups or lead to addresses ending in obscenities.
The oversight agency for Internet addresses, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, spent years crafting guidelines meant to curtail nefarious activities. Still, critics say ICANN is rushing to expand the naming system without putting enough safeguards in place.
"You don't want a ship to have holes... and ask everybody to come on board," said Dan Jaffe, the chief lobbyist at the Association of National Advertisers, which represents 400 companies and 10,000 brand names. "You should close the holes, then run a pilot project to see if the systems you put in place are actually effective."
There's also a question of how useful the new names will be, at least among English speakers. Alternatives to ".com" introduced over the past decade have had mixed success.