The battle for the most controversial new top-level Internet domain since .xxx is about to begin.
Beyond country-specific areas like .us, there are only a handful of top-level domains, such as the popular .com, .gov and .edu. And recently, a push has been on to add all sorts of new ones, an effort to filter and organize the web as well as carve out spaces for certain types of content. The .gay domain is the latest proposed -- and Scott Seitz is leading the charge.
Seitz is the founder of SPI Marketing, a “full service” gay marketing, public relations, and event planning agency that touts clients likes American Express, Pepsi, Subaru, and Coors Light. As the chief executive of dotGAY, he is overseeing the application process for the new domain, and will manage the policies and protocols if it gets approved.
"We’re getting ready to see the Internet reborn again in a very different way,” Seitz said in a recent interview with tech site CNET. He remains adamant, making clear that he think .gay is the beginning of a new chapter.
But if the .xxx domain's headaches are any indication, that's easier said than done, especially for such a loaded topic. Stuart Lawley, an entrepreneur, initially applied for the adult-oriented .xxx domain in 2004 -- and it still hasn’t been approved, thanks to opposition from both the Bush administration and a slew of nations including Brazil.
Despite Seitz's optimism, people aren't necessarily warming to his message. For many, adding a new domain seems superfluous: You can accomplish much of the same function within .com, the argue. Seitz disagrees.
“It’s not the same,” he argued. “You’re subject to whatever .com is subject to. [Instead we’ll be] in the island of .gay, which will have its own policies and be able to police people who are abusive. There’s a big difference between being a site versus a place where multiple sites can exist.”
One of the biggest criticisms of .com was the original “landrush,” the period in which people swarmed in to buy as many domains as possible in hopes of reselling them later for a profit, creating barriers for legitimate organizations. The proposed .gay would look to mitigate this problem.
“Instead of what most people would do, which is go out and sell your top categories -- travel.gay, doctor.gay, hiv.gay, bar.gay -- we’re keeping them,” Seitz explained. “And they’ll become an index to the community globally.”
Registering a domain within .gay will run you about $50-$100 dollars, Seitz said, and while a filtration process is being developed, it’s not their primary goal to censor anti-gay sentiment.
Still, getting the backing of the Obama administration -- which remains neutral on the issue -- and larger organizations remains a formidable obstacle. It doesn’t help that the Obama administration is recommending that governments be given the right to veto proposed new top-level domains “for any reason.”
“It’s problematic, and it’s discrimination on a terrible level,” Seitz said.
Ultimately, Seitz realizes that a difficult battle lays ahead, especially with staunch antigay countries, such as those that have death penalties for same-sex relationships. “Our goal would be to get that conversation going,” Seitz said.