ICANN is Falling Short of its Mission to Protect Internet Security and Stability

August 28, 2013

Name Collision is a major concern for global brands and consumers as ICANN prepares to roll out more than 1,000 new website suffixes or top level domains (such as .hotel, .buy, .bank, .sucks, and .gripe). Name collision occurs when new top level domains (TLDs) are identical to internal company domains, which can lead to major conflicts that could raise significant security and stability issues for the internet.

ICANN’s preparations for this deployment have been woefully inadequate. ANA, which represents the interests of major global advertisers, has long expressed concerns about ICANN’s persistent rush to deploy these domains before it has adopted sufficient protections for consumers and brandholders. To date, those protections have been anything but sufficient.

ICANN itself has recently raised red flags that it may not fully know the true ramifications of a roll-out of new TLDs by stating that as many as 20 percent of all of the proposed TLDs present a large potential risk for name collision.  A recent third-party report commissioned by ICANN admits that the chance of clashes is significantly larger than ICANN initially suggested. 

What is more concerning is that the third-party report readily admits that the data only counted the number (and not the types) of potential name clashes, which means ICANN has virtually no data to determine whether delegating new TLDs could interrupt important public safety communications, government web traffic, e-commerce applications, internal corporate communications or just casual web traffic.

Yesterday, ANA sent a letter to ICANN strongly expressing its concerns, stating that “ICANN must know what underlying services could potentially ‘break’ on the internet to begin to gauge risk” before rolling out any new TLDs. ANA’s member companies are working to determine if clash issues are present within their networks. However, ANA has hundreds of members that must generate new data to determine the potential service failures on their respective network. These issues are highly technical, complex, and they will take more time than ICANN has allowed for a thorough assessment.

It is extremely disappointing that ICANN is forcing companies to rush to conduct this analysis when ICANN has been aware of clash issues since 2009.

ICANN’s failure to determine adequately the extent of the problem means that many companies are only now learning about these clash issues on the eve of the planned new TLD deployment. 

ANA calls on ICANN to fulfill its mission to maintain internet security and stability in the public interest and postpone the rollout until the full extent of name collisions can be determined.

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