IAB Calls on ICANN to Withdraw Controversial Plan for New Top-Level Domains

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is today calling on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to withdraw its controversial plan for new top-level domains. ICANN’s plan would significantly expand Top-Level Domains, allowing companies and brands to register just about any word they want as a top level domain (TLD).

That means in addition to traditional TLDs like .com, .net, .org and .tv, for example, you could have domains like .techcrunch, .apple, .facebook, .hotel, .newyork, .coke, .cnn, etc.

These domains would come at an extremely high cost to publishers and advertisers, IAB says, and they will also provide the opportunity for cyber squatters to extort money from companies by registering domains in “bad faith.”

“ICANN’s potentially momentous change seems to have been made in a top-down star chamber. There appears to have been no economic impact research, no full and open stakeholder discussions, and little concern for the delicate balance of the Internet ecosystem,” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO and President, IAB. “This could be disastrous for the media brand owners we represent and the brand owners with which they work. We hope that ICANN will reconsider both this ill-considered decision and the process by which it was reached.”

ICANN’s board members voted for the new TLD plan earlier this year, with an overwhelming majority in favor of the initiative. The vote was 13 to 1 in favor, with 2 abstaining.  ICANN also previously contracted with ICM Registry to operate the .XXX top-level domain for adult websites.

The IAB isn’t the only one making waves regarding ICANN’s plan. Esther Dyson, the founding chairwoman of ICANN (among other things) spoke out against the new TLDs, in an interview here on TechCrunch back in July.

Her argument was not just focused on the economic impact and trademark issues, however, but also the impact on the Web’s users themselves. People have only so much space in their heads, she said. The new TLDs will sub-divide the little attention people have for brands already.