Predictions 2016: Jane Seager

December 15, 2015

Last year I predicted that around 1,000 new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) would in fact be in use by the end of 2015. This wasn’t far off as over 800 have so far been delegated, and it is easy to predict that this number will reach around 1,400 by the end of 2016, given the number of applications received by ICANN. However, despite Google’s high profile announcement of the use of for its new Alphabet holding company, and rapper 50 Cent’s choice of, which boosted registrations under .XYZ and .CLUB respectively, we have yet to see widespread adoption of new gTLDs to the detriment of .COM and other more traditional TLDs. However, I predict there will be similar announcements to come, not to mention more high value sales in the secondary market ( reportedly sold for $140,000 in 2015), which will strengthen the position of new gTLDs and start to alter the way we use the Internet.

Over in the world of Internet governance, 2016 will see the transition of the IANA function away from the United States Government to ICANN and the global Internet community, meaning that the Internet as we know it is at the beginning of a significant transitional phase. Whether ICANN will be able to successfully take the reins has yet to be seen, but it is certain that its actions will come under intense scrutiny from national governments, and any issues could potentially threaten the stability of the Internet. ICANN has so far shied away from policing Internet content, but this is a growing source of debate in the domain name community and may increasingly take centre stage going forward. In the wake of the heightened terrorist threats, it is certain that technology companies will come under more pressure from governments to grant them backdoor access to data and communications, and cybersecurity will remain a hot topic.

On a lighter note, live streaming will become increasingly widespread, and the popularity of virtual reality headsets will explode as the technology becomes more sophisticated and extends to previously unimagined uses beyond the world of gaming.

{b}Jane Seager is Counsel at Hogan Lovells{/b}