(The Hosting News) – America’s top consumer protection watchdog the FTC recently expressed concern regarding ICANN’s gTLD plan that allows for customized domain suffixes.
In June, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) passed the measure, allowing groups to begin applying on January 12th of next year.
The process lets users to sidestep using more traditional TLDs such as .com, .net, .org, etc. and create their own TLD, perhaps in the name of their company or for other reasons.
Discussing the matter in a letter sent to ICANN on Friday, the FTC expressed concerns while discussing how ICANN can help safeguard consumer protection.
One concern that the FTC has regards investigating illegal spam. In order to properly identify a website operator during such investigations, ICANN says it regularly works with “Whois services.” However, the FTC appears worried that ICANN’s new plan could further complicate the matter.
“A rapid, exponential expansion of gTLDs has the potential to magnify both the abuse of the domain name system and the corresponding challenges we encounter in tracking down Internet fraudsters,” stated the FTC in the letter.
To maintain consumer protection, the FTC wants ICANN to follow five outlined steps.
The first step involves allowing the process to move more gradually. To do this, the FTC wants ICANN to implement the application process as a “Pilot Program.” That means accepting fewer applications at once so that the “Internet landscape” will not be “dramatically” changed so soon.
Secondly, the FTC wants ICANN to make its Contractual Compliance Program stronger. Doing this would allow ICANN to add further accountability for registrars and registries.
The FTC also wants more oversight of the gTLDs approved to watch for consumer issues along with evaluating them for “Potential Harm to Consumers” during the actual approval process.
Lastly, the FTC would like ICANN to help make “Whois data” more accurate, thus helping in investigations against illegal internet spamming.
Just last week, ICANN detailed its search for a new CEO. Current executive Rod Beckstrom will step down following the completion of his term in July of 2012. For further information regarding the FTC’s concerns, view the FTC’s letter here as a .pdf file (ftc.gov).