As it prepares to launch a new domain name program later this week, the CEO of the group that manages the system defended the organization’s plan to allow for an unlimited number of new Internet addresses, saying the program will allow for badly needed competition.
Rod Beckstrom, chief of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also made clear in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the group is not giving into calls to delay the rollout, leaving critics of the proposal with few options to slow down or block it.
“There was a date approved by the ICANN board. ... Many participants [in the Internet community] feel they’ve already waited for many years,” Beckstrom said. “No new reason has been given for a delay. No new information has come in the last few months. It’s the same set of arguments most of which have been heard for up to five or six years.”
ICANN is set to begin accepting applications for its new domain name program at 7:01 pm Eastern time on Wednesday (12:01 am GMT on Thursday). It will open the domain name system to any new top-level name from .cars to .anything to compete with the 22 existing domain names, which include .com, .net and .org. Those who want to run a new generic top-level domain name must first pay a $185,000 application fee and demonstrate they have the financial and technical means to operate a domain.
Beckstrom said the new scheme will allow for greater innovation and increased competition. “The reality is not everyone has the domain name they want today,” he said.
The program, however, has come under fire by a host of corporate brand owners as well as nonprofits and international organizations. They have been urging ICANN to delay its rollout or to scrap it all together. They worry about the cost and effort it will take to defend their trademarks.
ICANN, a California-based nonprofit, has refused to budge despite pleas from key members of Congress. These members have called on the Commerce Department, which has some oversight over ICANN, to push it to slow down the program’s launch and look for ways to better address the concerns of trademark holders and others.
The Association of National Advertisers, which launched a coalition to fight the program, made a last-ditch effort Monday to get ICANN to make some modifications before the this week’s launch. They include allowing nonprofits, international groups and commercial trademark owners to put their names on a “Do-Not-Sell” list of names.
ICANN officials said they would consider the proposal but did not commit to making any more changes.
ANA Executive Vice President Dan Jaffe said following Beckstrom’s speech that his group is exploring all of its options, including litigation.
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