The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Why do the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia still have Web domains?

December 2, 2009 |  5:51 pm

Russian Communist Party supporters, carrying red flags and portraits, gather to pay their respects at the grave of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on Moscow's Red Square. Credit: Mladen Antonov / AFP/Getty Imagest.
The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia only exist in two places today: history books and the Internet.

Despite no longer being actual countries, the two former empires still maintain a sanctioned spot on the Web with their country code domains.

Country code domains are the two-letter suffixes in Web addresses. The U.S. has .us, the U.K. has .uk, and so on. Despite much debate within the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN is the international organization that oversees the Web), .su and .yu live on.

Yugoslavia will soon come to an end, however. ICANN plans to decommission the domain and disconnect the few sites that still use the country code at the end of March. That was after a delay in the migration process. Yugoslavia had fully disbanded three years ago.

The situation in the land of .su is even worse. This morning we wrote about computer security company McAfee's list of the most dangerous Web domains. No. 4 on that list was .su, the domain for the former Soviet Union.

Malicious websites have found a home on this domain, and it's unlikely that a reanimated Josef Stalin will come back to wag a finger at them.

The designated bad guys in the Cold War received the Internet domain in 1990. By the end of the following year, the Soviets had disbanded.

Think about that. The Soviet Union hasn't been a country for almost 18 years! Yet, it still has its domain. Which has seen more than 80,000 registrations, according to the Russian Network Information Center.

Kim Davies, a manager at Marina del Rey-based ICANN, said on the phone today that the organization is "actively considering" expediting the end of .su. But ICANN has not yet taken steps to do so.

-- Mark Milian