Alert: November 4, 2011

ICANN Proposal on New Top Level Domains

At the AAF Board of Directors meeting on November 2, many of you expressed an interest in the petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce asking the Department to help persuade the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to delay implementation of its plan to accept applications for the creation of a virtually unlimited number of new top level domains. The text of the petition, which will be released under the name of the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight or CRIDO, can be found below.

You will recall that top level domains are the part of an Internet address to the right of the dot (.com, .org, .edu, etc.). We believe the current proposal is likely to have a number of significant negative unintended consequences for businesses, brand-owners, non-profits and consumers and should therefore be delayed until all of these concerns are adequately addressed.

ICANN is currently scheduled to open the application window for new domains on January 12, 2012 so time is short. The initial release of the petition is scheduled for November 9. Please let me know by November 8 if you would like to add your company or ad club to the petition. I realize this is a short turnaround. There will be other opportunities to add your voice to the chorus should you be unable to meet this deadline.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

The Honorable John Bryson
US Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 4701
Washington D.C. 20230

Dear Secretary Bryson:

We, the undersigned, representing large and small business, in virtually every industry sector, in the United States and around the world, are writing to express our strong concern with respect to the June 2011 decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) to approve the top-level domain (“gTLD”) Applicant Guidebook and to move forward with plans to open the new gTLD application window on January 12, 2012 (the ICANN “plan,” “decision” or “ICANN Proposal”) on a virtually unlimited basis. 

ICANN’s action was taken despite widespread and significant objections raised throughout the process by many in the global community of Internet users.  ICANN’s decision was not made in the public interest, does not promote consumer trust, and does not benefit the public, as required in the Affirmation of Commitments between ICANN and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”).

Moreover, additional facts have come to light since ICANN announced the most recent iteration of the Applicant Guidebook – including rounds of troubling conflict of interest questions - which cast a shadow over the entire process leading up to ICANN’s decision.  Those facts, combined with the current state of the global economy, raise substantial issues regarding the wisdom of moving forward with ICANN’s plan, given its undisputed costs and its merely putative benefits. 

The ICANN Proposal would unduly burden a diverse range of public and private brand holders, as they would be forced to spend ever-greater amounts of time and resources simply to protect their brands.  In addition, there is an unacceptably high risk that the ICANN plan would confuse consumers, increase the already unacceptable level of fraud and identity theft on the Internet, create new opportunities for Internet crime, and jeopardize cyber security.  Businesses and not-for-profits alike have repeatedly raised these issues with ICANN over the last four years, with no acceptable resolution. 

For these reasons, we respectfully call on the Department of Commerce and, specifically the NTIA, to persuade ICANN to postpone the opening of the top-level domain application window unless or until such time as ICANN convincingly demonstrates that unlimited TLD name expansion would:

·         Promote consumer trust;
·         Enhance Internet security;
·         Promote widespread economic benefits across diverse economic sectors and stakeholders; and
·         Demonstrate that these benefits will exceed the costs that such gTLD expansion would inevitably impose on the global Internet community.
Respectfully submitted,

[Names of Associations and Companies]

cc:        Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

            Fiona Alexander, Associate Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

            Vernita Harris, Deputy Associate Administrator of the Office of International Affairs, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

            Suzanne Murray Radell, Senior Policy Advisor, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

            Elizabeth Bacon, Telecommunications Policy Specialist, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce