Energy and Commerce Committee urges delay of domain-name expansion

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 Last Friday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned ICANN its plan could create opportunities for scammers to set up fake websites to take advantage of consumers.

"Although we believe expanding [generic top-level domains] is a worthy goal that may lead to increased competition on the Internet, we are very concerned that there is significant uncertainty in this process for businesses, non-profit organizations, and consumers," the lawmakers wrote. "To that end, we urge you to delay the planned January 12, 2012, date for the acceptance of applications for new gTLDs."

The lawmakers said "a short delay will allow interested parties to work with ICANN and offer changes to alleviate many of them, specifically concerns over law enforcement, cost and transparency that were discussed in recent Congressional hearings.”

Lawmakers who signed onto the letter include committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

In response to the FTC's concerns, ICANN President Rod Beckstrom said last week the domain proposal was "thoroughly debated for more than six years" and had input from a variety of experts.

He said the group will implement tough protections to ensure the new domains do not infringe on copyrights, and the program will be "implemented in a measured, limited manner." 

ICANN is an independent, international nonprofit, and it is unclear whether the U.S. government can do anything to stop the rollout of the new domains.