Google this week reportedly updated its Webmaster Tools service to treat more ccTLDs as non-geography-specific, but it still seems to be overlooking two gTLDs altogether.
According to its refreshed FAQ, only 19 gTLDs are treated as “gTLDs that can be geotargeted in Webmaster Tools”.
The list does not include .post, which has been in the DNS since August 2012 and available to buy since October, or .xxx, which was delegated and went to general availability in 2011.
While the .arpa gTLD also does not appear (for perfectly sane reasons), the list does include tightly controlled and restricted gTLDs such as .int and .mil, however.
Google treats .asia the same as the ccTLD .eu: a “regional top-level domain” that can be geo-targeted in the same way as a regular gTLD.
The rules appear to apply to the geo-targeting function in Webmaster Tools, which allows webmasters to specify whether their site is designed for only a certain nation or region.
One would assume, with Google being an applicant for almost 100 new gTLDs, that before long its gTLD team will be able to affect change elsewhere in the company in a more timely fashion.
Google’s Kenyan web site was reportedly inaccessible yesterday due to a hijacking of the company’s local domain name.
Google.co.ke briefly redirected users to a site bearing the slogan “hacked” on a black background, according to the Daily Nation. A change of DNS was blamed.
Google Kenya reportedly said:
Google services in Kenya were not hacked. For a short period, some users visiting www.google.co.ke and a few other website were re-directed to a different website. We are in contact with the organisation responsible for managing domain names in Kenya.
Google is of course a high-profile target; hackers often exploit weaknesses at third-party providers such as domain name registries in order to take down its satellite sites.
Its Irish site was taken down in October last year, after attackers broke in through a vulnerability in IEDR’s Joomla content management system.
Remember the “mystery gTLD applicant” that had promised to campaign against Google’s closed generic gTLD applications?
It turns out the company behind the campaign is actually Latin American Telecom, one of the three applicants for .tube, and that part of its strategy is a Legal Rights Objection.
According to a copy of the LRO kindly provided to DI this week, LAT claims that if Google gets to run .tube it would harm its Tube brand, for which it has a US trademark.
If you haven’t heard of Latin American Telecom, it, despite the name, appears to be primarily a domainer play. Founded in Mexico and based in Pittsburgh, its main claim to fame seems to be owning Mexico.com.
The company says it has also been building a network of roughly 1,500 video sites, all of which have a generic word or phrase followed by “tube.com” in their domains, since 2008.
It owns, for example, the domains IsraelTube.com, MozartTube.com, LabradorTube.com, AmericanWaterSpanielTube.com, DeepSeaFishingTube.com… you get the idea.
They’re all cookie-cutter microsites that pull their video content from Vimeo. Most or all of them appear to be hosted on the same server.
I’d be surprised if some of LAT’s domains, such as BlockbusterTube.com, PlaymateTube.com, FortyNinersTube.com and NascarTube.com, didn’t have trademark issues of their own.
But LAT was also granted a US trademark for the word TUBE almost a year ago, following a 2008 application, which gives it a basis to bring an LRO against Google.
According to its LRO:
The proposed purposes of and registrant limitations proposed for .TUBE by Google demonstrate that the intended purpose of Google’s .TUBE acquisition is to deprive other potential registry operators of an opportunity to build gTLD platforms for competition and innovation that challenge YouTube’s Internet video dominance. It is clear that Google’s intended use for .TUBE is identical to Objector’s TUBE Domain Channels and directly competes with Objector’s pre-existing trademark rights
There’s quite a lot of chutzpah being deployed here.
Would LAT’s ramschackle collection of –tube domains have any meaning at all were YouTube not so phenomenally successful? Who’s leveraging whose brand here, really?
For LAT to win its objection it has to show, among other things, that its TUBE trademark is famous and that Google being awarded .tube would impair its brand in some way.
But the company’s LRO is vague when it come to answering “Whether and to what extent there is recognition in the relevant sector of the public of the sign corresponding to the gTLD”.
It relies surprisingly heavily on its Twitter accounts — which have fewer followers than, for example, DI — rather than usage of its web sites, to demonstrate the success of the TUBE brand.
I don’t think its objection to Google’s .tube application is a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.
There is a third .tube gTLD applicant, Donuts, but it has not yet received any LROs, according to WIPO’s web site.
Google has started fully supporting DNSSEC, the domain name security standard, on its Public DNS service.
According to a blog post from the company, while the free-to-use DNS resolution service has always passed on DNSSEC requests, now its resolvers will also validate DNSSEC signatures.
What does this mean?
Well, users of Public DNS will get protected from DNS cache poisoning attacks, but only for the small number of domains (such as domainincite.com) that are DNSSEC-signed.
It also means that if a company borks its DNSSEC implementation or key rollover, it’s likely to cause problems for Public DNS users. Comcast, an even earlier adopter, sees such problems pretty regularly.
But the big-picture story is that a whole bunch of new validating resolvers have been added to the internet, providing a boost to DNSSEC’s protracted global roll-out.
Currently Google Public DNS is serving more than 130 billion DNS queries on average (peaking at 150 billion) from more than 70 million unique IP addresses each day. However, only 7% of queries from the client side are DNSSEC-enabled (about 3% requesting validation and 4% requesting DNSSEC data but no validation) and about 1% of DNS responses from the name server side are signed. Overall, DNSSEC is still at an early stage and we hope that our support will help expedite its deployment.
One has to wonder whether Google’s participation in the ICANN new gTLD program — with its mandatory DNSSEC at the registry level — encouraged the company to adopt the technology.
The formative domain name industry trade association that DI has blogged about a few times recently has found itself a web site.
The Google-backed initiative can be found now at WhatDomain.org, which currently carries a bit of brief information about the organization’s rough plans and a call for potential members to get in touch.
The site states:
We are organizing to help educate the world on the coming changes in the domain landscape and to support the interests of the domain name industry. We are inviting any organization with a similar interest in domains to join us in working to create and launch an organization that will enable us to work together to achieve these objectives.
The association will eventually have membership tiers and fees, but those details have yet to be arranged.
We understand that while new gTLD applicant Google is doing most of the “heavy lifting” getting the project off the ground, the company wants to go as arms-length as possible very quickly.
The first informal meeting of what may or may not become officially known as WhatDomain took place at during an intersessional ICANN meeting in Amsterdam this January.
The idea is to promote new gTLDs and domain names in general, raise the reputation of the industry and promote the universal acceptance of TLDs among software developers.
During a session here at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in New York yesterday, ICANN head of stakeholder engagement Sally Costeron seemed to commit ICANN to help support the initiative.