WHO Calls for ‘.health’ for Medical Sites
To guide Internet surfers through the "labyrinth of information" online, the World Health Organization intends to create a ".health" domain name for health and medical sites, the Washington Times reports. WHO officials say the domain name would establish a "brand name" for medical sites that people could "trust" and "associate quality and ethical standards with." By setting
standards, the WHO hopes to raise the quality of health information posted on the Internet. In addition, the ".health" certification would "weed out" misleading sites that "scam" customers through "products with no value." Dr. Joan Dzenowagis, who proposed the WHO plan, said, "WHO is the safe pair of hands that Internet users need to help them navigate their way through a mass of often complex and sometimes conflicting health information." There is opposition to the proposal, as some see a danger in the "potential to over-regulate" Web sites. Domains names have never been subject to regulation before and the new method may be unable "to keep up with all the new sites and information." In addition, by allowing only WHO to certify health Web sites, the organization would have a monopoly in verification of medical information on the Internet. Nils Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council, said, "It is not clear to me that [the WHO's] proposed solution is actually going to work. The not-for-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has the lone authority to establish domain names. ICANN will review the WHO plan and 47 other proposals this week in Los Angeles. If approved, the new ".health" could be in use by the end of next year (McKenzie, Washington Times, 11/13).