ANA on ICANN’s Expansion of Top-Level Domains: “Reckless and Premature”
On January 12, ICANN began carrying out its controversial new plan. As WebProNews previously reported, the organization made the historical decision last year to expand the number of generic top-level domain (gTLD) names to an unlimited number. What this means is that the 22 domain name endings, including .com, .org, and others that currently exist, could turn into .brand going forward.
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The decision was reached with much opposition, especially from the advertising and marketing community. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has been the biggest force in speaking out against ICANN’s plan. It, along with 161 other organizations, formed the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) in order to raise awareness of their concerns.
These organizations believe that the new gTLDs could be harmful to both brands and consumers. In the interview below, Doug Wood, the General Counsel for the ANA, told us ICANN’s plan was an unnecessary move.
“Consumers have no problem finding what they’re looking for on the Internet through search engine technology,” he said. “This is more of a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist, and the costs that will be incurred by brands and then, ultimately, pushed on to consumers… is going to be far in excess of any justifiable cause.”
Despite the criticism, ICANN began carrying out its plan earlier this month, a move that Dan Jaffe, the Executive Vice President of Government Relations for ANA, calls both “reckless” and “premature.”
As he explained to us, there are problems such as cyber squatting and phishing that exist in the current system. That said, he thinks that those issues need to be addressed before the floodgates are opened for new top-level domains.
“Unfortunately in the existing system, there are serious problems of cyber squatting, typo squatting, phishing, the placement of malware, [and] the inability to find out who, in fact, really owns Internet addresses,” he said. “We’re afraid unless these types of problems are resolved that suddenly opening the top-level domains to as many as 1,000 new top-level domains, which is a thousand percent increase over the existing systems, it would be very, very dangerous both to businesses and consumers. ”
ANA and CRIDO have reached out to ICANN on several occasions in an effort to get the decision reversed. The FTC and various officials in the U.S. government have also expressed their concerns, but Jaffe told us that ICANN has not responded.
One of the big concerns that these groups have is that businesses will feel pressured to spend the $185,000 or more to keep a competitor or worse from buying their domain name. ICANN, however, says that it has protections in place such as its “Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy” that protect businesses from taking defensive measures.
“They have put in several protections, but they have never run a pilot project to see if those various protections really work in the real world,” said Jaffe.
“ICANN is running some of the fundamental areas of the Internet and, therefore, we want to make sure they run them properly or ICANN’s own future will seriously be undermined,” he added.
Last week, ICANN announced that it has already approved 25 successful registrants for new domains. Jaffe told us that the full impact of the move would not be felt until April when ICANN stops accepting applications and reveals the new registrants.
“We think this is absolutely a top issue for the business community across the whole of the world,” he said. “[It] needs to be done appropriately, or it will severely undermine the trust that has begun to be built up to make the Internet one of the largest marketplaces in history, the largest marketplace in history.”