ICANN understand ANA's argument
12/12/2011 6:49 PM
A recent program to become effective in January 2012 by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the not-for-profit organization that controls Internet domains, is coming under fire by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
The program would allow any organization to buy their own generic top-level domain (gTLD). A top-level domain is for example the .com in www.example.com. These new gTLD's would allow anyone to buy a .coke, .bank, or .whatever for around 185k initial cost of buying the rights to the gTLD and 25k yearly fee.
Even congress is now involved in the controversy and the ANA is lobying heavily to stop the program. The ANA contends three basic arguments.
Identity theft - the ability to purchase a .bank for example would allow any spammer or scammer to pose as a bank by purchasing for example citibank.bank.
- Cyber squatters - it would create a whole new wave of cyber squatters or domain speculators registering a name closely associated with a brand in hopes that the organization would buy the domain.
- Unnecessary business expense - the cost of acquiring a single gTLD and managing it over 10 years could easily exceed $2 million.
ICANN dismisses ANA's arguments and the program seems to be on track for January. Proponents for the program argue that spammers/scammers can and have already used existing standard top-level domains like .info .org and others to pose as a legitimate organization. Additionally, a simple fear of cyber squatters would have prevented standard top-level domains to evolve. There are millions of domain names available today that could be interpreted as infringing on someone's brand.
One important point the ANA makes is that a brand could easily confuse consumers by controlling a gTLD such as .mobile. Since it is the responsibility of the domain owner to lease domains under the top level domain to companies wishing to operate under that gTLD, the owner could easily keep certain competitors from buying the domain for their brand using that gTLD. Once consumers associate a .mobile, for example, with a particular industry it could cause confusion and unfair competition.