Saudi Arabia has tried to block a series of requests for new web addresses ending with words like ‘gay’, ‘sucks’ and ‘catholic’.
In a letter sent to ICANN, the body in charge of web addresses, the kingdom claimed some of the suffixes were ‘offensive’.
ICANN plans to allow hundreds of new ‘top-level domains’, the first of which will go live next year, to supplement .com, .co.uk and other existing addresses.
The Vatican had bid to create domains ending in .catholic, saying it was ‘a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church’.
But the Saudi authorities have argued that it ‘cannot demonstrate that it possesses a monopoly over the term “Catholic'”.
It also objected to .gay labelling it ‘offensive’ adding that ‘many societies and cultures consider homosexuality to be contrary to their culture, morality or religion’.
These objections are just some of more than 160 sent by the Saudi Communication and Information Technology Commission to ICANN, The Daily Telegraph reported.
In its complaint about The Vatican’s request, the commission said: ‘Many other Christians use the term “Catholic” to refer more broadly to the whole Christian Church regardless of denominational affiliation.
‘Other Christian communions lay claim to the term “Catholic” such as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church.
Therefore, we respectfully request that ICANN not award this.’
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communication, which already controls .va, paid the $185,000 fee to bid to create .catholic earlier this year.
It said the domain was ‘a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church’.
The Saudi government added that it objected to any group being put in charge of web addresses based on religious terms, The Daily Telegraph reported.
It complained about bids to create top-level domains for .islam, .halal and .ummah on similar grounds.
Among the other moral complaints the kingdom made was one about the used of .baby.
Three bidders including the baby powder maker Johnson & Johnson have applied to create .baby, but the Saudis said it could be used to host and promote pornography.
‘Pornography undermines gender equality and threatens public morals by objectifying and exploiting women,’ the Saudi government said.
‘The values expressed in pornography clash with the family concept and they undermine the traditional values that promote marriage, family, and children.’
The Saudis also objected to .tattoo as tattooing is prohibited in Islam and Judaism and to .bar on grounds that because of its association with alcohol the term ‘promotes activities that can be detrimental to public order and morals’.
A similar plan to create a .pub top-level domain aimed primarily at British landlords also angered the Saudi government.
There are currently only 364 top-level domains, most referring to countries, but the U.S.-based quango is now considering applications to create almost 2,000 more.
Observers fear that the process will be bogged down with complaints from trademark holders seeking to protect their brands online.
The organization is already battling criticism that it is dominated by Western interests, and especially those of the U.S.