ICANN’s gTLD Plan Under Fire

Kachina Shaw

The list of criticisms of ICANN’s plan to release in the near future new generic top-level domains, or gTLDs, is growing longer. Verisign seems to have opened the door for other complaints to be aired with its detailed report last week, though the exact reason for the report is unclear and under debate itself. As ICANN VP of Security Jeff Moss told The Register, “We're really close partners with Verisign. We work with them constantly. We'll work with them on any issues – neither one of us wants to be known as the company who wrecked the internet."

Fair enough.

Verisign’s report, sent to ICANN and to the SEC, cites systemic, operational and root server issues with the gTLD plan in its current form, and warns “Any party concerned with consumer and operator privacy, trust, confidence, and overall security of new gTLDs and the broader Internet would be well served by the ICANN Board addressing these issues as appropriate before delegating any new gTLDs, as the risk of a misstep in this direction could have far-reaching and long-lasting residual implications.”

With this gate opened, PayPal sent a letter to ICANN citing fears about security problems with the gTLD plan, and the Association of National Advertisers, which keeps a close eye on ICANN, wrote that the April 23rd launch date set by ICANN’s CEO will create a “train wreck” on the Internet, with “cybersquatting and phishing, among many other cybercrime threats that jeopardize brand and consumer protections.”

The evaluation steps set for the April 23rd date may or may not be rescheduled, given the current scrutiny of the stability of the process. One sign that it could be changed to allow more time is that ICANN has chosen and named three emergency back-end registry operators (EBEROs), apparently in response to Verisign’s alarms about the slow selection of EBEROs.

The approval process will evaluate the nearly 2,000 generic domain names applied for, many of which your organization may want to follow, as they could create a real risk of the types of name clash and/or branding problems that organizations like Verisign and ANA are predicting.



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