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What's the .rush? More flak for ICANN over big domains boost


By Noel Young, Correspondent

December 15, 2011 | 3 min read

What’s the dot rush? That was the question from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress this week as ICANN - the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - answered hostile questions about its plan to vastly expand the number of top-level domains.

International look, US discord

The plan would facilitate names such as .cocacola, .royalbank, or even .scot (one of the names being pushed ). But advertisers lobbying hard against the plan say it would cost brand owners millions (about $2 million on average per company), create confusion among consumers, and increase Internet fraud. As many as 1000 new domain names could be registered .

Congressman Greg Walden, Republican chairman of the sub-subcommittee looking at the matter, said bluntly of the plan , "I don't think it's ready for prime time."

The hearing was a victory for advertisers, said Adweek magazine . Dan Jaffe, of the Association of National Advertisers, said, “This is one of the most important issues facing the brand community throughout the world. Our members have hundreds, even thousands of brands. It’s an extraordinary cost.”

Jaffe's team, the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight, recently added Visa and Xerox to 160 top advertisers and organisations supporting it.

Icann wants to start accepting applications for TLDs next month but the pols were skeptical that ICANN had broad consensus when it approved the plan last summer.

Last week the Senate Commerce Committee expressed similar concerns.

Despite the criticism from subcommittee members, ICANN still believes it's time to move forward with its plan.

“This process has not been rushed,” said ICANN vice president Kurt Pritz.. “Every issue has been discussed. No new issues have been raised. The people at this table participated in this debate. I’m not deterred at all from the conclusion that this will lead to great innovation in the Internet. "

But members weren’t buying Pritz’s answers. Congresswoman Doris Matsui, of California, said, “You seem to believe this has to go forward because you’ve talked about it for six years and that should be enough."

And she suggested, " If ICANN can’t delay, would you consider a pilot project? Once it takes off, I don’t know how we’ll deal with this.”

The subcommittee intends to keep pushing ICANN to reconsider. “The more we do our role, the more ICANN may take a second look at it,” Walden told Adweek. “Based on what I heard today, they should delay.”

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