Icann ramped up its PR offensive on Thursday just a month away from the long-awaited opening of the application period for new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), but was forced to defend its actions in the US Senate after heavy lobbying against the project from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
Icann president and chief executive Rod Beckstrom was in Beijing at an event designed to educate and stimulate interest in the new gTLDs among China's business community and urged interested organisations worldwide to get expert help now if they want to make the initial application period.
In the US, however, Icann's senior vice president (SVP) of stakeholder relations, Kurt Pritz, was up before a Senate committee on commerce science and transportation tasked with "examining the merits and implications of this new program and Icann's continuing efforts to address concerns raised by the internet community".
The ANA and other bodies such as the American Advertising Federation have been critical of the gTLD project and want it postponed until all of their concerns – mainly that it will incur high costs for members – have been addressed.
In a lengthy testimony, Pritz defended the project as having been created and refined with broad consultation among industry stakeholders and argued that it will contain "significant protections beyond those that exist in current TLDs".
These include trademark protections such as mandatory sunrise and Trademark Claims processes, rapid suspension of infringing domain names, trademark clearing house and "post-delegation dispute procedure".
Pritz also outlined a series of measures to mitigate malicious content including background criminal checks on applicants, DNSSec implementation as a requirement, and single point of contact for abuse complaints.
The Icann SVP also took the opportunity to launch a withering attack on the opponents of the new gTLD programme, saying that any concerns raised were addressed in the six-year policy development process of drafting the programme.
"Icann has noted the PR campaign driven by industry groups against the new gTLD programme, and the revisionist history they present. They are now forum shopping and asking Congress to give them another bite at the apple," he said.
"After working for years within Icann's multi-stakeholder framework to obtain significant concessions for intellectual property rights holders, they now seek to upset the carefully crafted compromise which they helped create."
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