An Ounce of Prevention

Benjamin Franklin didn’t invent the Internet (I think we all know that it was Al Gore) but the founding father did coin the term “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And this old saw applies to the Internet when it comes to combatting cybersquatting. It’s far less expensive to prevent cybersquatting than it is to cure it after the fact through the Uniform Domain-name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or lawsuits.

Cybersquatting prevention must take place at two levels: at the brand level, where companies monitor the Internet for illegal use of key trademarks and at the institutional level, where registrars and other stakeholders use established processes and safeguards to try to prevent cybersquatting in the first place.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is one institution that must ensure its processes and safeguards are well-established and up-to-date.  And it seems that ICANN’s CEO Fadi Chehadé is well aware of this. He is planning to strengthen both in the near future, based on a recent interview with Times of India:

There are concerns these new TLDs could lead to increased phishing and cyber-squatting on well-known brand names. What’s your response?

Of course it may increase bad behaviour because things are going to become bigger and more people will be involved. But what we need to do in the face of this challenge is not usurp this opportunity from the people but increase management. We must put safeguards in place and professionalise ICANN`s ability to manage these safeguards.

Managing safeguards is, essentially, risk management, and to “professionalize” is to enhance knowledge through training. Given that Mr. Chehade has worked in IT leadership roles at large companies, risk management and professional training would not only be familiar to him, but almost a way of life.  So if we had to guess, we’d guess that ICANN employees are in for some “risk management”-inspired training sessions related to the processes and safeguards of the new gTLD program.

CADNA is certainly happy to hear that ICANN’s CEO is doing what he can at an institutional level to combat cyber-squatting and phishing in the new Top Level Domain space. The question is, will legislators follow suit? It may take some time, but the fact that Congress is addressing patent trolling, cybersquatting’s cousin in the family of online scams, is a very promising sign.

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