Resounding Opposition to New Top Level Domains

Most constituents opposed to new TLDs; propose major overhaul.

The comment period for the second draft of ICANN’s new top level domain name applicant guidebook concluded yesterday. Most commentors suggested ways to fix the process and rules, but these same commentors are opposed to any adoption of new top level domains. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find more than one comment in favor of new TLDs from an organization other than those trying to launch new TLDs.

What’s scary about the process is how everyone wants special treatment. Consider American Bankers Association, which thinks any TLD related to finance should have strict regulations:

While many of the new generic domains will pose no threat to trusted transactions over the Internet, any domain name associated with financial services should be restricted to financial services companies, with substantial restrictions, guidelines and proof of eligibility.

It’s also clear that trademark interests are using this process to overreach. I’m a staunch supporter of trademark rights, but I’m concerned to see companies such as Hearst claim that no one else should be able to register the second level domain “cosmopolitan” on any TLD. It would be shame if someone applies for .drinks and can’t use cosmopolitan.drinks.

Many constituents are perplexed that ICANN seems to be pushing forward without first addressing major questions such as if there is a need for new TLDs. One major corporation called ICANN’s simplistic and erroneous economic study about the demand for new TLDs an opinion piece. AT&T (NYSE: T) questioned why ICANN was moving forward without addressing major overarching issues:

AT&T welcomes the detailed analysis of all responses received by ICANN in the Public Comment process, as well as ICANN’s acknowledgment that there are at least four “overarching” threshold concerns that were not adequately addressed by the draft Applicant Guidebook.1 However, ICANN published a Second Draft Guidebook, giving the appearance that it was continuing to move forward to implement unlimited generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) expansion in spite of the acknowledged importance of first resolving the threshold issues. ICANN must be open to the fact that one possible outcome of threshold issue resolution may be a fundamental change to ICANN’s initial implementation proposals.

What is most striking to me is that ICANN seems to be setting policy. It claims it doesn’t set policy and has a bottom-up process for policy. But it’s clear that ICANN’s financial goals — and perhaps the bonuses of its employees being tied to seeing new TLDs through — is getting in the way of this ideal.


  1. says

    In plain English, ICANN has opened a Pandora’s Box.

    The problem with ICANN is that they really aren’t accountable to anyone and have never been found legally liable for their actions. Any other responsible organization or company receiving this much flak would shelve their plans immediately.

    The letter from the Olympics (IOC) is an harbinger of things to come. These people are extremely litigious and I wonder if ICANN understands that, in the minds of many attorneys, what folks like the IOC are presently doing is creating a classic paper trail. In other words, when the lawsuits start to happen ICANN will have no defense to claim they had “no idea” why there was so many TM abuses, etc and will be found fully liable.

  2. says

    I have read a large volume of responses in ICANN’s public comments section. It’s plain as day. If they persist in lieu of the huge dissent, then the government’s contract with ICANN will need to be terminated, and transfer to another regulatory body worked out.

    The amount of time and resources being wasted on the new gTLD proposal is pretty alarming. The obstacles and problems are numerous and complex. ICANN alone have neither the will nor the means to adequately solve the problems outlined in the public letters.

    My hunch is that ICANN will naively, stubbornly press forward while maintaining an air of concern … but without substantively fixing the many problems their plan will introduce. This will provide the fuel for challenging their competency and legitimacy.

    Higher level public officials have no idea the snafus this organization has created. Once it’s learned that ICANN are on the brink of an irreversible last snafu that will undermine the stability of the internet, then I predict a firestorm of negative sentiment and corresponding action will proceed that will reel ICANN in, or lead to their dissolution.

    Again, ICANN’s gTLD plan is not needed, and will introduce a myriad of risks … all avoidable. “Consumers” will suffer. “Businesses” will suffer. ICANN will experience an unprecedented influx of new capital. And the internet will be subject to tenfold the current level of abuses.

  3. C says

    I agree with Menius and his/her predictions – pointless waste of time all a guise for earning extra pennies for their coffers.

    Yes, there may be *some* good uses of the gTLDs, but overall the amount of trouble this is going to cause (already has caused) far outways the benifit of having them in the first place.

  4. Abigail says

    “Many constituents are perplexed that ICANN seems to be pushing forward without first addressing major questions such as if there is a need for new TLDs.”

    Two posts later, you mention that names like “” are selling for $10k+. Perhaps there are people out there interested in purchasing non-crappy names for their personal websites or businesses for less than five figures.

    I understand why domain squatters are interested in maintaining the status quo, but that’s hardly a good reason to delay the round any further.

  5. Also says

    M. Menius, considering the website that you link to is a “.biz” domain, what are your thoughts on the 2001 introduction of the “.biz” top level domain? Did that initiative “undermine the stability of the internet”? Did consumers and businesses suffer from the introduction of .biz? Does the registration of 2 million .biz names give any indication as to consumers’ interest in domains with new extensions?

  6. says

    @Abigail (“I understand why domain squatters are interested in maintaining the status quo, but that’s hardly a good reason to delay the round any further”)

    – You need to spend time doing some in depth reading of the issues at hand. If you had, then you would understand there are multiple reasons why unlimited new extensions are problematic.

    Incidentally, it’s “domain investors”. Your use of the term “domain squatters” is a misnomer. If you don’t undertsand the distinction, then you’ll likely not understand the complexity of the new gTLD issues at hand either.

  7. Abigail says

    @Menius: I’m intimately aware of the “issues” being raised by various domain speculators and trademark interests to try to discredit ICANN and the new TLD round. That the new round will “undermine the stability of the internet” is one of the more laughable claims that I’ve heard. I have yet to hear or read anything that provides any evidence for this claim.

    Next we hear that “all of the new TLDs will be failures” because “.com is king.” Great – then don’t apply for a new TLD, and don’t worry about it.

    While I find the idea that companies MUST register their name and various misspellings in every last TLD dubious at best, at least the trademark holders’ concerns have a sliver of validity, which is why ICANN is taking their concerns seriously and coming up with proposed solutions to help brands protect their marks in new TLDs at minimal cost.

    And “I don’t like the new round because it will dilute the value of my domains” is not, in my opinion, a good reason to delay the round further, nor do I think it’s accurate.

    You still haven’t answered my questions about your .biz address. :)

Leave a Reply