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ANA Applauds Strong Letter from FTC to ICANN Citing Major Concerns About Top-level Domain Expansion Program

FTC Details 5 Steps Needed to Mitigate Risk to Consumers

New York, NY - December 19, 2011 - The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the leader of the 160-member Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO), today praised the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for sending a detailed, 15-page letter to ICANN's Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Stephen D. Crocker, and its President and CEO, Rod Beckstrom, expressing major concerns regarding ICANN's plan to greatly expand generic top-level domains (gTLDs), starting January 12, 2012. The letter specifically highlights "the potential for significant consumer harm resulting from the unprecedented increase in gTLDs."

Signed by FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Commissioners J. Thomas Rosch, Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill, the letter further urges ICANN to take a series of five steps "to mitigate the risk of serious consumer injury and to improve the accuracy of Whois data." The letter further states, "We strongly believe that ICANN should address these issues before it approves any new gTLD applications. If ICANN fails to address these issues responsibly, the introduction of new gTLDs could pose a significant threat to consumers and undermine consumer confidence in the Internet."

The specific steps include the following:

  1. Implement the new gTLD program as a pilot program and substantially reduce the number of gTLDs that are introduced in the first application round
  2. Strengthen ICANN's contractual compliance program, in particular by hiring additional compliance staff
  3. Develop a new ongoing program to monitor consumer issues that arise during the first round of implementing the new gTLD program
  4. Conduct an assessment of each new proposed gTLD's risk of consumer harm as part of the evaluation and approval process
  5. Improve the accuracy of Whois data, including by imposing a registrant verification requirement

The FTC further contends that even if these steps are taken, ICANN should only proceed with a "pilot program" to assure that the domain naming system is functioning appropriately.

In acknowledging the letter, Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA, heralded the strong public stance taken by the FTC. "Chairman Leibowitz and the FTC Commissioners have rightly put ICANN on notice that their planned domain expansion program will endanger consumers, encumber brand owners and compromise law enforcement efforts to thwart malicious online activities. We trust this explicit and direct communication from the FTC, coupled with the widespread international opposition to the top-level domain expansion program from businesses, non-profits and the legal community will convince ICANN that it must stop this initiative and build true consensus with the many constituencies that depend upon a responsibly managed Internet domain naming process."

In addition to the serious matters raised by the FTC, the legal counsels of the public international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) recently conveyed their concerns to ICANN in an open letter. The IGO community represents a wide range of vital causes such as public health, food security, peace-keeping operations, containment of weapons proliferation, children's rights and disaster relief, among many others.

Representing such organizations as the United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and many others, more than 30 signatories to the letter formally requested that ICANN exclude third-party domain registrations for the names and acronyms of IGOs both at the top- and second-level.

Within the past two weeks, the ANA on behalf of CRIDO, testified at two federal hearings: the Senate Commerce Committee, and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. At both hearings, the ANA raised major concerns of the international business community regarding ICANN's top-level domain expansion program.

About the ANA
Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA's membership includes 400 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers. For more information, visit http://www.ana.net/, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, or visit our YouTube channel.

About CRIDO
The Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) represents 160 influential national and international trade associations and companies, including all the members of the World Federation of Advertisers that have joined together to oppose the roll-out of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) program to expand Internet top-level domain names. CRIDO members, representing some 90 percent of global marketing communications spending (equivalent to $700 billion annually), cite the proposal's deeply flawed justification, excessive cost and harm to brand owners, likelihood of predatory cyber harm to consumers and lack of stakeholder consensus, a core requirement of its commitment to the U.S. Department of Commerce. For more information, visit www.crido.org

Press Contacts
Luna Newton, CooperKatz & Company for the ANA
lnewton@cooperkatz.com or 917.595.3061

Jamie Bezozo, CooperKatz & Company for the ANA
jbezozo@cooperkatz.com or 917.595.3032

 

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