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Internet

.London domains open to anyone to create a capital Web address

Battersea Dogs Home and Storm Models are among the organisations to have secured a .London domain name.

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London mayor Boris Johnson poses in front of the capital's famous Tower Bridge with some of the first businesses and organisations to purchase a .london domain. Dot London Domains

London mayor Boris Johnson appeared today with some of the local businesses that have been first to add .london to their Web addresses, as the city's new top-level domain is now available to anyone in the world.

Among those local interests that have joined the "Dot London" line-up are vintage car outfit Hexagon Classics, pretty people agency Storm Models, the London Dance Academy, the artisan White Hat Bakery, and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

People, organisations, and businesses can add ".london" to their Web address instead of the familiar .com, .co.uk or other suffixes, following a period in which locals got priority when applying for new domains. The new local suffixes are among the top-level domains (TLDs) opened up by the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body in charge of the admin of Web addresses, with almost any word up for grabs to round out your website's URL.

Various major cities around the world have nabbed their own domain name, including Germany's .berlin, Sweden's .stockholm, and Turkey's .istanbul as well as .nyc, .miami, and .vegas in the US.

Anyone can apply for a new cockney-style domain at buydomains.london, which opened for business in April. The first .london sites included such landmarks of the Big Smoke as East End football team West Ham and hamper emporium Fortnum and Mason.

Proponents of the scheme believe it gives local businesses and organisations a more memorable and personalised online identity. Critics, however, argue the proliferation of new domains is a scam to bleed more cash out of businesses that were perfectly happy with their existing websites, thank you very much. Companies and institutions will be motivated to fork out for new TLDs because they don't want opportunistic wrong'uns to snap up URLs related to their brand, either holding the brand to ransom or worse using them for nefarious ends -- a scam known as "cybersquatting".

ICANN has set out a process to deal with cybersquatting, with businesses and organisations able to appeal if cybersquatters take up residence on a domain that could be confused with their brand.