By Trevor Little
November 16 2011
Last week almost 90 business associations and companies joined forces with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to form the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) and oppose the rollout of the gTLD programme. While some commentators have argued that the call has come too late, the ANA’s general counsel has told WTR that the fight will continue beyond the application window if necessary.
On behalf of its many constituencies and industries, CRIDO states that it is “committed to aggressively fighting ICANN's proposed programme, citing its deeply flawed justification, excessive cost and harm to brand owners, likelihood of predatory cyber harm to consumers and failure to act in the public interest, a core requirement of its commitment to the US Department of Commerce”.
Amongst the members who have joined the coalition are such associations as the National Association of Manufacturers, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, the American Council of Life Insurers, the US Chamber of Commerce and the World Federation of Advertisers. Additionally, brands including American Express, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Dell, General Electric Company, Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble and Samsung have signed up.
The question is whether such a movement will realistically be able to hold up the gTLD rollout now it is less than two months away. Speaking to WTR, Doug Wood, ANA’s general counsel, is bullish and explained the coalition’s action plan: “What we are doing is trying to pressure international organisations – both political and non-political – ICANN and the US Department of Commerce, which has some leverage through the IANA contract (which is up for renewal in March) to try to bring some sense to this insanity, which we believe is a solution searching for a problem that doesn’t exist, and never existed.” Alongside this lobbying the organisation will present a petition to the Department of Commerce to outline opposition to ICANN’s plans.
Responding to the accusation that the call has come too late, Wood notes: “People will, of course, ask ‘did you wait too long?’ or ‘is it too late?’, but the answer is no. In reality, people did comment on the mistakes of this programme but it was ignored by ICANN, which has been hop-scotching around the globe for four years to get consensus – which we jokingly call consensus by fatigue.
“But there is now a real groundswell of opposition and more people are speaking out now there is a reality to this. The coalition is a powerful group and is global one – it is not just a bunch of US-centric companies or associations. Importantly, labour in the US has also come out against gTLDS - both the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have stated they are fearful of what it means for entertainment brands. The entertainment community is one of the most important financial engines of the internet. It is as much a part of the internet’s success as any brand or product being sold. When they say ‘we don’t want this’, someone has to listen to that and take it seriously.”
For its part, ICANN has long been preparing for any challenge to the gTLD expansion – WTR reported earlier this year that the organisation had amassed a war chest to fight lawsuits arising from the expansion – with $60,000 from every application fee set aside for “risk costs”.
While January marks the opening of the application window for gTLDs, Wood predicts the fight will indeed continue if ICANN presses ahead: “The internet is broken. There are serious security risks. Consumers are being bilked every single day. Brands are being hijacked every single day. There are very serious security issues. No matter what you think about this particular idea, no one can deny that adding hundreds more top-level domains will make these matters worse. So what we are saying to ICANN is ‘stop, take a breath and let’s talk about this’.
"And the reason ICANN should not roll forward is that, if they do, this movement will not go away. They will be under more spotlights and pressures if they say to the brand community that they don’t care. They can say ‘this is our sandbox and, if you don’t want to play in it, get out’. But that isn’t going to happen. They should realise how serious this is. We have the momentum – as they say in sports, we have the mo - and it is building every day.”
You need to be logged in to leave comments. Click here to login.
There are no comments on this article