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House E&C Members Call for Delay in ICANN Domain Name Expansion

A large, bipartisan group of House energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday sent a letter to the head of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) asking it to delay expansion of generic top level domain names (gTLDs) -- the "right" of the dot names like .com, .net, and .TV -- which is scheduled for early next month.

That follows a hearing on the subject last week at which many of the same members expressed their concerns that the move could boost the potential for scamming and squatting and privacy and brand protections without a concomitant pressing need for the expansion, which would boost the current 22 gTLDs to some 300 to start and perhaps many more.

"Although we believe expanding the gTLDs is a worthy goal that may lead to increased competition on the Internet," they wrote, "we are very concerned that there is a significant uncertainty in this process for businesses, non-profit organizations, and consumers."

The legislators letter follows one from the Federal Trade Commission members suggesting that ICANN might want to scale back the expansion to a pilot program at first. saying there was "significant" potential for consumer harm from the increase and steps ICANN should take to mitigate it before going ahead with the expansion.

Among the 16 committee members signing on to the letter were Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Communications Subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, and former Communications Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Markey is particularly concerned about the privacy implications of the expansion.