AAF Government Report

December 15, 2011

Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President – Government Affairs

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Congress Looks at Plan for New Domains

Both U.S. Senate and House committees have conducted hearings examining the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) plan to put up for auction a virtually unlimited number of new top level domains. Top level domains are the part of a web address to the right of the dot (.com, .org, .edu, etc.). The initial auction period is scheduled to begin on January 12, 2012.

Prior to either hearing, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz testified at a hearing on an unrelated matter that the ICANN plan would be a “disaster for businesses and consumers” and would create major additional problems for law enforcement.

At a December 8 hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee, ICANN senior vice president Kurt Pritz testified that all stakeholders are represented in ICANN and that the plan had achieved consensus. That claim was undermined by testimony in strong opposition to the plan by representatives of both the business and non-profit communities. Senators Amy Kobuchar, D-Minn., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., both former prosecutors, echoed Chairman Leibowitz’s concern about the law enforcement implications of the plan.

Likewise, members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology expressed skepticism about the ICANN plan in a Dec. 14 hearing. Members from both sides of the aisle declared the plan “not ready for prime-time” and urged ICANN to delay implementation until the business and law enforcement concerns are addressed.

The issue has been getting play in the media as well. The Washington Post editorialized against the plan on December 11.

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