ICANN To Function Independently From U.S. Government - Lawmakers Question gTLD Plans
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As previously mentioned, a majority of ICANNís work revolves around the international domain names and IP address structures that make the Internet run smoothly, but ICANN is also the organization that decides which generic top-level domains (gTLD) can be used. ICANN distinguishes top-level domains differently based on the content they provide and places them into three categories: infrastructure top-level domain, country-code top-level domains, and generic top-level domains.
Essentially, this means that ICANN decides whether a group or organization gets a .com, .net, or .org. More often than not, itís usually gTLD-related issues that get ICANN in the news, and itís the issue that most directly affects Internet users. The organization gets approached regularly to create new and different gTLDs. It was even approached by the adult industry to create a .xxx gTLD for adult-themed content, but ICANN refused. It should be pointed out, however, that it was refused when the organization was still under government control.
Now that ICANN has more pull because of the agreement they reached with the U.S., many businesses are afraid that this new-found freedom could result in the creation of an unlimited number of new gTLDs, such as .gaming, .football, .cars, etc., etc. If this were to occur, the additional new gTLDs would force already existing companies to purchase large numbers of the new domain names in order to protect their trademarks. Obviously, this would result in huge expenses for businesses and most likely create a never- ending game of cat and mouse between lawful trademark owners and those infringing on the new gTLDs.
U.S. lawmakers have expressed their concerns over the creation of new gTLDs and have even publicly urged ICANN not to create any more. Members of a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee grilled ICANN Chief Operating Officer Doug Brent concerning the organizationís apparent move towards selling new gTLDs. Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, was the most vocal in his concern about the fact that ICANN hasn't been able to, or even attempted to -- in his opinion -- legitimately respond to questions about why the organization is planning to sell new gTLDs to compete with .com, .org, and other current TLDs.
This issue is so important that itís even mentioned in the new agreement between ICANN and the U.S., which reads, "Nothing in this document is an expression of support by the Department of Commerce of any specific plan or proposal for the implementation of new generic top level domain names or is an expression by DOC of a view that the potential consumer benefits of new gTLDs outweigh the potential costs.Ē
That being said, if ICANN chooses to, the organization can create a number of new gTLDs, no matter how unpopular or frowned upon the decision would be. There are countless organizations, based both in the states and abroad, that applaud ICANNís new freedom from the U.S. government, but if the organization unleashes a flood of new gTLDs, countless businesses around the globe will wish the U.S. had remained more involved.
Unfortunately for those businesses, it appears as if thatís the direction in which the organization has chosen to go. As far back as June 2008, ICANN members voted to move forward with ďunlimitedĒ gTLDs, in addition to the 21 gTLDs already available for purchase. According to insiders, under the new ICANN plan anyone could apply for a unique gTLD, with those already suggested being .food, .basketball and .eco. These more personalized gTLDs will reportedly cost about $100,000. The organization had originally planned to offer the new gTLDs sometime last year, but it appears as if the deadline was purposely missed so that the organization could work with their critics to resolve as many issues as possible.
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