Advertisers say ICANN’s domain program is flawed


ICANN’s proposal could lead to an explosion of specialized domain names (Illustration by JESS3)

In June, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers gave its nod to a proposal that would allow for the registration of custom top-level domains, such as .love or .camera. ICANN says the initiative could make it easier to navigate the Web because consumers will know to look to brand-centric or industry-specific domain names for trusted sites.

The Association of National Advertisers, however, disagrees with that assertion, outlining its objections to the proposal in a letter sent to the corporation Thursday.

ANA President Robert Liodice said that the program does not follow the rules and regulations of ICANN itself. Liodice said the ANA does not believe the corporation met its requirements for extensive economic study and consultation with stakeholders before approving the program.

ICANN did not respond to a request for comment.

Liodice said that ICANN should abandon the program. Having so many options for domain names, the ANA said, will confuse consumers and force companies to invest in several domain names to protect their brands.

“They are essentially being forced to buy their own brands from ICANN at an initial price of $185,000,” he said

The letter also raises concerns about consumer privacy, as the opportunity for greater piracy also opens the possibility that customers will unknowingly give their information to sites posing as other companies.

The ANA has historically advocated for industry self-regulation on privacy matters.

Liodice said that he hopes to resolve the differences with ICANN but is prepared to stop the proposal by legal means if necessary.

“If possible, we are prepared to work with you to generate far better outcomes, but if such collaboration is possible to avoid far more expensive alternatives, we must know now if ICANN is willing to do so,” Liodice wrote.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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