The New York Times has joined the Washington Post in urging ICANN to rethink and delay its introduction of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) saying “a pilot program to work out problems before expanding the system” would be a better option, just as the three month application period is scheduled to open in a little over two weeks. The two editorials raised similar points.
The New York Times says “a plethora of new suffixes is just as likely to cause confusion for consumers and enable malefactors to use the new arenas for deception. Icann expects 500 to 1,000 applications in next year’s 90-day application window. Before it approves any of them, it needs to slow down and put in place better safeguards against consumer fraud.”
Raising concerns of cybersquatting, the Times says the “Web is full of sites that masquerade as legitimate companies to sell pirated goods or steal consumers’ financial information. Fraudsters avoid detection by registering their sites using proxy services and false identities. The administrators of the online address system — Icann, the registries that operate suffixes like VeriSign, and agents like GoDaddy that sell Internet addresses to the public — are doing a terrible job curbing fraud.”
The Times is also concerned that despite efforts by ICANN to combat fraud, “companies will still have to spend a lot on defense, registering domains to avoid squatting on their brands and keeping an eye out for potentially infringing Web sites across hundreds of new suffixes. And Icann’s current inability to deal with abusive domain name registrations undermines confidence in its ability to address the risks of this vast expansion.”
The Washington Post taking a similar line says “ICANN reports to no one — a decision made when the group was created during the Clinton administration to protect Internet independence. The group has made some adjustments in response to concerns, including creation of a trademark clearinghouse and a ‘rapid response’ process to allow legitimate rights holders to quickly knock out imposters. Officials have said that some nonprofits may be permitted to pay lower fees.”
The Times concludes saying the Federal Trade Commission “is rightly urging Icann to require that registries and registrars be able to verify the identity of owners of all domains that have a commercial purpose, and to impose meaningful penalties for those who break the rules. There is no pressing need to create hundreds of new suffixes next year. It would be far better for Icann to start with a pilot program to work out problems before expanding the system.”
The Washington Post concludes its editorial saying “ICANN should not approve new names until enforcement and protection issues are resolved. Even then, it should approve at most a few, to allow the marketplace to absorb and weigh the changes. ICANN would be wise to move slowly; its legitimacy and Internet efficacy are at stake.”