Simultaneous campaigns are under way in the Celtic nations to create the internet domains .sco, .cym, .gal, and .bzh.
Scots, Welsh, Galician and Breton website owners and business could soon have the freedom to use their country domains on the internet, if their domain name applications to ICANN are successful.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the internet regulatory body that organises and creates new Top Level Domains such as .com, .net. org, and country domains such as .ie (Ireland), .de (Germany), .ca (Canada), etc.
Applications for the creation of the internet domains “.sco” for Scotland, “.cym” for Wales (Cymru, in the Welsh language), “.gal” for Galicia, and .bzh for Brittany (Breizh, in the Breton language) are ready to be submitted as ICANN recently announced that they would be accepting applications for new names later this year 2008.
The national organisations in charge of coordinating the ICANN application process are dotSCO in Scotland, dotCYM in Wales, PuntoGAL in Galicia, and PointBZH in Brittany.
National governments support domain name bid
Campaigns for the creation of internet domain names for Scotland, Wales, Galicia and Brittany have been simultaneously under way since 2006.
For the past two years, campaign organisers have been building support by calling on all individuals, groups, organisations and businesses to express their backing for the initiative, both at national level and throughout the Scottish, Welsh, Galician and Breton Diaspora.
Governmental support was initially obtained by Breton campaigners in 2006 as Jean Yves Le Drian, Brittany's President, promised to back a .bzh internet domain.
The Galician campaign, PuntoGAL, was next to receive full parliamentary support as both government and opposition parties agreed to back the application for the .gal internet domain in November 2007.
The dotSCO campaign received its highest profile boost so far on March 2008 as the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced his government’s full support for a .sco domain for Scotland.
The dotCYM campaign secured governmental backing following the One Wales coalition pact for government signed in April 2008 between Wales' ruling parties, Labour and Plaid Cymru.
Campaign organisers dotSCO, dotCYM, PuntoGAL and PointBZH have also received the support of hundreds of national cultural institutes and societies, think-tanks, newspapers, TV and radios, colleges and universities, county and city councils, and all types of business. Moreover, thousands of Scots, Welsh, Galicians and Bretons, as well as potential users from the Celtic diaspora, have signed online petitions showing their support for the internet domains .sco, .cym, .gal, and .bzh.
Celtic cooperation for a stronger united lobbying
Since campaigning for domain names started in 2006, Scots, Welsh, Galicians and Bretons have been watching one another looking for ideas and examples of good practice.
On 28th September 2007, representatives of dotCYM, PuntoGAL and PointBZH took it a step further and attended a meeting in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia to discuss closer cooperation between the three organisations.
The meeting was fruitful and it was decided to develop closer professional cooperation between the various bids so as to make financial savings through economies of scale, share good practice, and create a stronger united front before submitting the applications to ICANN.
Campaigners highlight benefits of national internet domain names
Supporters of the internet domains .sco, .cym, .gal, and .bzh claim the move will be good for business as it will boost global recognition of their countries.
DotCYM campaigners said that .cym would be a “cheap and user friendly worldwide brand for Welshness” and would “answer a strategic need for the unique selling point of sectors like tourism, IT, food produce and agriculture and cultural and media industries.”
DotSCO campaigners believe that .sco would give Scotland a higher profile and would particularly benefit the Scottish tourist industry.
In Wales, the national broadcaster S4C has already shown interest in using the .cym domain when it comes available. Many other businesses including breweries and regional tourist offices have also announced their intention of having the .cym choice to brand their products.
Strengthening links with the Diaspora and ex-pats overseas is also seen as a potential for economic and cultural benefit. Support for the domain names campaign is arriving from all over the world, especially from Scottish, Welsh and Galician societies in America. Campaign organisers claim .sco, .cym, .gal, and .bzh would be an ideal way to market their countries on the world wide web and strengthen the network of the Scottish, Welsh, Galician, and Breton community world-wide.
Optimism over application result
Campaign organisers dotSCO, dotCYM, PuntoGAL and PointBZH are moderately optimistic about the outcome of their application to ICANN.
In years gone by, British Crown dependencies of Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey were awarded the domains names .im, .gg, and .je respectively. French overseas territories Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique and Reunion Island were also given their domains .gp, .gf, .mq, and .re, and Danish autonomous provinces of Greenland and the Faroe Islands obtained the domains .gl and .fo.
In September 2006, ICANN approved the domain name .cat for the Catalan linguistic and cultural community on the internet.
Alongside with the Celtic bids, similar campaigns are currently under way for London, Berlin and New York to be given their own internet domain names - .ldn, .berlin, and .nyc. Supporters of the .ldn domain name say millions of people regard the capital as central to their identity and should be able to identify their business with the city. They also claim that use of .ldn would enhance London's profile in advance of the 2012 Olympics and boost tourism.
Since cooperatives (.coop), the aeronautical industry (.aero), museums (.museum) and the Catalan language (.cat) have already been recognised as communities with their own domain on the internet, Scottish, Welsh, Galician and Breton campaigners feel their cultures should have a very strong basis for obtaining .sco, .cym, .gal, and .bzh as a domain.
Mr Rob Gibson, Member of the Scottish Parliament and Chair of the cross-party group supporting the .sco campaign, said that "domain names are part of people's everyday lives and this type of recognition on the internet is long overdue.”
Optimism among campaign organisers was high after a conference held by ICANN on June 26th 2008 approved a recommendation that could remove the restrictions on domain suffixes, allowing organisations or companies to register any word as a URL domain name such as .sco, .cym, .gal, and .bzh.
Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN's Board Chairman, said: "This was an extremely successful meeting that will be remembered as a milestone in the development of the Internet. New generic Top Level Domains and Internationalized Domain Names will open up the Internet and make it look as diverse as the people who use it."
A final version of the implementation plan must be approved by the ICANN Board before the new process is launched. It is intended that the final version will be published in early 2009.
Do you want to lend your support?
DotSCO, dotCYM, PuntoGAL, and PointBZH are looking for members and supporters (individuals, groups, organisations and businesses) from within and outwith the Celtic nations.
Official website of the .sco campaign.
Official website of the .cym campaign.
Official website of the .gal campaign.
Official website of the .bzh campaign.
If you have a website, you can help promote the campaigns by displaying a banner and linking to the campaign's official website.