FTC Chairman Weighs in on New TLDs

Jon Leibowitz

FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz

Chairman Jon Leibowitz wrote a letter to ICANN yesterday asking them to:

“(1) implement the new gTLD program as a pilot program and substantially reduce the number of gTLDs that are introduced in the first application round,

(2) strengthen ICANN’s contractual compliance program, in particular by hiring additional compliance staff,

(3) develop a new ongoing program to monitor consumer issues that arise during the first round of implementing the new gTLD program,

(4) conduct an assessment of
each new proposed gTLD’s risk of consumer harm as part of the evaluation and approval process, and

(5) improve the accuracy of Whois data, including by imposing a registrant verification requirement.”

The tone of this letter sounds very serious. It was copied to powerful Sentators and Committee Members. But I still sense that the FTC knows that new TLDs will go forward. He also stated:

“Before approving any new gTLD applications, we urge ICANN to take the steps described below to mitigate the risk of serious consumer injury and to improve the accuracy of Whois data. We look forward to working with ICANN as it honors these commitments to ensure that the new gTLD program benefits both consumers and businesses alike.”

As I read through the letter, I kept thinking, “these are all things that ICANN has been focusing on for the last ten years. There aren’t perfect answers but certainly ICANN has improved in all of these areas and continues to do so.

I suspect that the ANA lobby got to the FTC and motivated them to write this letter. The requests aren’t unreasonable and do hit many of ICANN’s weaknesses but misses the point that ICANN has already addressed many of these things and is actively addressing them now.

Some of the points seem exaggerated because there will be no more harm to consumers because of new TLDs. Anything that crooks will be able to do with new TLDs is being done already. It’s the same number of criminals and will be the same number of crimes; just with different names.

Read the letter… | Source: FTC | Date posted: 12/17/2011

About Joe Alagna

Joe Alagna is a Director of Business Development at the leading Registry Service Provider, Afilias. He is an expert in all aspects of the domain name business, including domain name investing, new gTLDs, registrars, and registries. Before the domain name business, he negotiated national accounts contracts for AT&T Wireless.

Joe can be reached by phone at +1 (909) 606-9175 or via email using the contact form on this site.

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