ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom has advised Bulgarians to admit defeat in their ongoing campaign to have .бг approved as a local-script top-level domain to match .bg.
The country’s application for the Cyrillic label was rejected by ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track program last year because it was found to look too similar to Brazil’s .br.
Nevertheless, the local government and domain name groups have continued to press for the right of appeal, and have indicated they may apply again.
But in an interview with Novinite published today, Beckstrom says:
I would advise the Bulgarians to go for something else. The initial application for .бг was unsuccessful.
The job of ICANN, the organization, is to implement the policies that are developed by the global communities. Those communities did not allow the initial application to go through because of potential visual confusion. So I think the Bulgarians can go back and they can choose what they want to apply for.
The Bulgarians can apply for a three-character name, they can apply for .българия in Cyrillic, it’s really up to the local community.
He goes on to say that Bulgarians could wait for a change in policies then apply again, they could change their desired string, or they could abandon their plans altogether.
However, surveys have found little appetite among the Bulgarian public for alternative strings such as .бгр, .българия, .бя or .бъл.
It’s a tricky problem for ICANN, which is first and foremost tasked with ensuring DNS stability and security.
Confusingly similar TLDs lend themselves to security risks such as phishing, and my understanding is that if .бг were to be approved it would face opposition from interests in Brazil.
The Novinite interview also touches on the possibilities of .софия and .Пловдив, to represent the Bulgarian cities of Sofia and Plovdiv.
The .бг issue was the subject of some apparently heated discussion during the recent Domain Forum new gTLDs conference in Sofia, but I understand Beckstrom had left before that part of the agenda.
You can now watch the entire Domain Forum, including Beckstrom’s introductory keynote, for free on YouTube.