Rabbis' £11bn fight over ‘dot-kosher’ domain

Rabbinical groups are in conflict over a proposal to introduce an online marketplace for kosher goods under the domain name “dot-kosher”.

If “dot-kosher” is introduced, it would function in the same way as existing suffixes in web addresses such as “dot-com” and “dot-net”.

Bloomberg has reported that the battle is flaring up between rabbinical groups just as the internet organising body Icann meets in Durban, South Africa, to begin a major expansion of domain names.

Four US bodies; Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (UOJCA), STAR-K Kosher Certification, Chicago Rabbinical Council, and Kosher Supervision Service; and one Canadian body, the Kashruth Council of Canada, have voiced their opposition to the US-based kosher certifier Kosher Marketing Assets’s application for the rights to the “dot-kosher” internet address.

Kosher Marketing Assets, a division of OK Kosher Certifiers, is the only company that applied for the rights. Other groups either missed the deadline or did not apply, and are now protesting over the possibility that the company will be the sole proprietor of “dot-kosher”.

The size of the market for food deliberately bought because it is kosher is expected to reach £11bn this year.

Exclusive control of the domain would give its owner a massive influence over supply chains.

UOJCA chairman Harvey Blitz told Bloomberg: “We think that if the term ‘kosher’ is commercialised, it will do a disservice to how religion in general should be treated and will harm the kosher public specifically.”

Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, OK Kosher’s CEO, said he never intended to control the domain name unilaterally, and was open to working with the five groups.

Last updated: 7:45pm, July 25 2013