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Top Level Domains Get .eco Friendly

Can a domain name help save the environment?

An effort is now underway to create a new top level domain (TLD) called .eco, which would aggregate environmental information about organizations and individuals along with a .eco domain name.

The .eco TLD is being proposed to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) as part of a new expansion of domain names set to occur in 2010. Backers of .eco are aiming for the proposed TLD to become a trust mark for environmental and sustainability information.

"I think .eco makes a lot of sense intuitively to people as a place to get green information," Trevor Bowden co-founder of .eco bidder Big Room told InternetNews.com. "We wanted to go beyond just selling domain names and raise awareness. We want to build a useful tool and platform."

Bowden noted that in addition to the administrative and technical details that someone would normally disclose when buying a domain, .eco will make companies include eco-information disclosure.

The types of information that could be included in a .eco registration are many.

"A lot of eco-information that companies produce about themselves or their products is dispersed and difficult for consumers to find, so we want to be a transparency solution," Bowden said. "We could ask registrants whether their product has an eco label or if their company produces a sustainability report."

Other information could include membership information in environment organizations or efforts. As well, the .eco TLD could potentially include energy use information and data from smart meters.

The target market for the .eco TLD could be Fortune 500 companies, which Bowden noted might be inclined to run .eco in parallel to their existing .com domains. The .eco site would be the place where the companies aggregate all of their green information.

The .eco TLD isn't just being proposed for big vendors; Bowden commented that it could be useful for small business and individuals, too. According to Bowden, millions of small businesses are looking for a reporting framework that could demonstrate their environment progress and that framework could be .eco. Additionally, .eco could be used by individuals to track their own environmental activities and footprint.

Getting a .eco Domain

ICANN is set to take proposals in early 2010 for new TLDs, which is when Big Room will formally submit their proposal for .eco. Bowden said that his group has been working on the .eco bid for almost two years at this point.

As part of the bidding process, Big Room will pay ICANN a fee of $185,000 and will need to ensure that they have a complete submission. Part of that involves the technical back end that will manage the TLD. Big Room has partnered with Afilias, the manager of the .org and .info TLDs, to help manage the proposed .eco TLD.

"There will be an evaluation process all applicants will have to go through," Bowden said. "We would love to see .eco up and running in 2010 but it will be dependent on the evaluation process and the speed with which application are evaluated by ICANN."