Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) says the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is not taking the slow and steady approach to expanding generic top level domain names (gTLDs), which could have "adverse consequences" for consumers, companies and nonprofits.
In a letter to Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the White House's chief telecom advisor, Rockefeller said he wanted Strickling to work with ICANN to make sure that the expansion, which begins with an application window that opens Jan. 12, is done in a "cautious, limited manner."
Rockefeller raised similar concerns at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing earlier this month on the expansion.
The Federal Trade Commission has already reached out to ICANN, asking that it limit the expansion to a pilot program at first, a point Rockefeller made in his letter. He also cited industry concerns that it would cost millions of dollars to defend against cybersquatters.
He said he wants Strickling to ask ICANN to either delay the opening of the application window or "drastically limit" the number of new gTDLs, which could be introduced as soon as 2013. Currently, there are estimates that the first window could increase the current gTLD count from 22 to some 300. It could be a tough sell given Strickling's defense of the ICANN decision-making process earlier this month.
"Assistant Secretary Strickling has a good understanding of ICANN's multi-stakeholder model and as recently as 10-days ago endorsed it in a speech," ICANN Director of Global Media Affairs Brad White told B&C/Multi, pointing to the following passage from his speech to a telecom policy group in Washington Dec. 8, in which he refers to the gTLD expansion.
"[W]e are now seeing parties that did not like the outcome of that multi-stakeholder process trying to collaterally attack the outcome and seek unilateral action by the U.S. government to overturn or delay the product of a six-year multi-stakeholder process that engaged folks from all over the world," said Strickling. "The multi-stakeholder process does not guarantee that everyone will be satisfied with the outcome. But it is critical to preserving the model of Internet governance that has been so successful to date that all parties respect and work through the process and accept the outcome once a decision is reached. When parties ask us to overturn the outcomes of these processes, no matter how well-intentioned the request, they are providing 'ammunition' to other countries who attempt to justify their unilateral actions to deny their citizens the free flow of information on the Internet. This we will not do. There is too much at stake here."
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