21 September, 2009

Lawmakers asking for information from ICANN

In July 2009 I wrote about ICANN's plans to expand the Internet's top-level domains (TLDs), and how I and others believes this will have a significant negative impact on companies, big and small. [TLDs are the .COMs, .ORGs, etc at the end of URLs.]
"...companies are already losing over $1 billion annually due to cybersquatters misrepresenting and redirecting traffic on the Internet through taking advantage of URLs not purchased by companies. The proposal being made by ICANN can skyrocket those losses and increase expenses..."
As reported by nextgov.com, 'Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith and Courts and Competition Subcommittee ranking member Howard Coble, R-N.C., said they are worried that a vast expansion of domains will carry "serious negative consequences"...' in a letter to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom. Smith and Coble have reiterated the concerns over ICANNs plans for the additional TLDs and have asked for a reponse by September 22, 2009.

While ICANN is trying to become independant, Washington is trying to make the joint project agreeement a permanent relationship. Naturally this is a very contiversial topic, but to date, ICANN has made many mistakes that in the future could be amplified if they were an independant organization.

Back to the topic of expanding the TLDs, there is also an opposing point of view that believes this move is positive. In short, it will give ICANN an influx of money to operate and "new domains will be safer space for trademarks."

My position is still one of not allowing the expansion of additional TLDs. There is a track record of cybersquatters taking advantage of consumers by sucking up TLDs, such as getting .CO and .CM TLDs to capture traffic more typos of .com. ("Out of the 183 [.CM] domains, an astounding 97 percent are owned by a third party—only 6 domain names are owned by the target company.") There also is no real argument for needing more TLDs, when many that are available today are not being used. In fact, as we learned in the .CM situation, the ones that are being purchased are being done for defensive reasons and by third-parties.

To recap the implications -- businesses, big and small, there will be an increased expense by having to buy more TLDs for defensive reasons. And the implication to consumers is the confusion of landing on an alternate TLD (such as .CM), and the cybersquatters that are fooling them into thinking they are at the right place. So my hopes is this latest inquest by lawmakers will lead to stopping ICANN from going forward with their plans for more TLDs.

To read about this and other related subjects, there are several sites you can visit.

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