WASHINGTON, December 14, 2011 – The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) appreciated the opportunity to serve as a witness and provide testimony at today’s hearing on ICANN’s Top-Level Domain Name Program, held by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. CADNA views this hearing not only as an opportunity to reform the problems with ICANN’s New gTLD Program, but to also bring increased levels of transparency and accountability to ICANN’s system of Internet governance.
CADNA’s testimony focused on a series of recommended solutions that the Coalition believes would make the New gTLD Program, should it move forward as scheduled, markedly less detrimental for brand owners if implemented by ICANN. Included in those recommendations was the suggestion that ICANN disclose when a second new gTLD application round will occur, and the requirement that future operators of new, open registry gTLDs allow trademark holders the chance to block their marks in perpetuity for a low, one-time fee, among others.
Other witnesses expressed their concerns about various aspects of the New gTLD Program, while multiple Subcommittee members stated that they believe the Program is “not ready for prime time.” ICANN’s witness, Kurt Pritz, defended the process that led to the creation of the policies around the rollout of new gTLDs. In his testimony, CADNA President Josh Bourne stated, “This policy has flaws and should not move forward without further refinement,” and then moved into his suggestions for such refinements.
“Today, ICANN heard a chorus of concerns about the New gTLD Program. The unanimity of stakeholders should compel ICANN, an organization responsible to all Internet users, to make changes to the gTLD policy,” Bourne said after the hearing. “CADNA looks forward to working with ICANN and all concerned parties, including Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Eshoo and the Committee.”
The relationship between ICANN and the business community continues to be strained, as reflected in the discussion that occurred at today’s hearing. “I believe that the solutions CADNA has put forth will not only improve the New gTLD Program for businesses and all Internet users, but they would also serve to mend the relationship between ICANN and businesses,” Bourne added.
Many questions and comments circled around the problem of cybersquatting; given that cybersquatting is a serious problem in the current domain name space, many fear that expanding the number of gTLDs will only lead to more instances of cybersquatting. In his testimony, Bourne explained that it is necessary for Congress to revise the 1999 Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). As it currently stands, ACPA does not create strong enough deterrents to prevent online criminals from engaging in cybersquatting and other brand-infringing activities. The law needs to be strengthened to prevent this malicious activity, which causes serious harm to businesses and enterprises as well as Internet users. It is vital for Congress to update ACPA to better combat cybersquatting, both in existing TLDs and any new gTLDs that are introduced as a result of ICANN’s Program.
CADNA will continue to refine the solutions it proposed today, and will continue to develop additional recommendations to improve the New gTLD Program for brand owners and Internet users. According to Module 6, Term and Condition #14 in ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook, there are still opportunities to modify the policy around new gTLDs. CADNA looks forward to continuing to advocate for the interests of its members and all businesses, as well as the consumers they serve, both in the context of the New gTLD Program and other areas of Internet governance.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today. For more information, please visit www.cadna.org.