ICANN approves major top-level domain name changes

After 6 years of discussion, the Internet's regulator, Icann, has voted unanimously to change the strict rules on "top-level" domain names.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has okayed the new regulations that will see generic top-level domain levels - basically any string of letters - registered as official internet destinations.

Before this important ruling, top-level domains have been limited to individual countries, such as .uk or .it as well as to commerce (.com) and others like .net, or .org.

The decision means that companies could turn brands into web addresses, while individuals could use their names.

"We are opening up a new world and I think this cannot be underestimated", said Roberto Gaetano, an ICANN member while fellow member Peter Dengate Thrush, said the decision was of "historic importance".

From next year, individuals can register their name, as long as they can show a "business plan and technical capacity" while companies will get their domain names based on their intellectual property, although there's clearly potential for contention.

A second proposal, to introduce domain names written in non-English scripts, such as Asian and Arabic, was also approved ending 25-years of restrictions for non-Roman alphabets.