On May 31 2012, the Public Interest Registry (PIR) formally filed an application to create and manage a new domain name extension for non-profit corporations. PIR is a non-profit organization that currently manages the .org extension. Their proposal is for a new .ngo extension reserved for qualifying non-profit organizations. Currently, most non-profits use the .org extension. However, with open registration of the extension available to any entity, there is no process to verify legitimate organizations from non-legitimate ones.
The PIR’s proposed .ngo extension would be a closed domain reserved only for organizations dedicated to the public benefit – clearly distinct from commercial or government entities. More specifically, the PIR will allow .ngo registration for “organizations that pursue activities and provide services, by means of creating awareness, social mobilization, training, research and advocacy, in support of public good, including but not limited to the promotion of human rights, protecting the environment, providing basic social services, and a host of cultural and economic developments.” Among the different benefits of a .ngo extension, the PIR will be able to create a verified directory of public interest organizations.
At the time of this posting, there are no details yet as to specifically how the verification process would work for the .ngo extension. The process is currently at a preliminary stage, with Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) set to review the application filed by PIR. ICANN is also a non-profit organization and serves as the governing body, which oversees domain name extensions on the internet. The application process can be tracked on their website here: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/
For current non-profit organizations on the .org extension, there may be an incentive to register a parallel domain on the .ngo extension if this application passes. Verification of identities, whether it be people or organizations, is a critical issue on the internet. In addition to being more trustworthy to end users trying to learn more about their organization on the internet, there would also be an incentive to join the PIR’s .ngo directory. Networking and making connections with similarly minded organizations can provide a powerful resource for a growing non-profit organization.
More information about .ngo is available at http://www.ngotld.org/