According to a recent report in WebProNews, IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, is opposing the recently publicised decision by ICAAN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to lift restrictions on generic top level domains.
The lifting of this restriction will make it possible for companies to use their own brand names as top level domains. So instead of being netage.co.za for example, we could register our company as a domain, and have the address netage.netage.
The IAB however, a group that includes over 500 media and technology companies, jointly responsible for around 85% of all online advertising in the US, is speaking out against the plan, saying that it will cause “incalculable financial damage to brand owners, including the hundreds of media brands in its membership,” and that it would “come at an extremely high cost to publishers and advertisers, and would also offer “cyber squatters” an opportunity to harm a brand’s integrity and/or profit greatly from their bad-faith domain registrations.”
Cyber Squatters Opportunity
The “opportunity” for cyber squatters that they’re worried about is the chance for people un-associated with a brand to register that brand as a domain name, and then attempt to make a profit by selling it back to the company whose name it is.
It’s a practice that was fairly common in the past, when domain registrations were a new thing, and it’s something that still goes on today, although savvy marketers will automatically register any domain name with even a tenuous connection to their brand nowadays.
The IAB is not the only group that’s opposing this decision. The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is another group that represents a large number of companies and brands, and they’ve also come out in support of IAB’s opposition, for largely the same reasons.
In their official statement, they said “By introducing confusion into the marketplace and increasing the likelihood of cybersquatting and other malicious conduct, the Program diminishes the power of trademarks to serve as strong, accurate and reliable symbols of source and quality in the marketplace. Brand confusion, dilution, and other abuse also poses risks of cyber predator harms, consumer privacy violations, identity theft, and cyber security breaches. The decision to go forward with the Program also clearly violates sound public policy and constitutes a breach of ICANN’s own Code of Conduct and its undertakings with the United States Department of Commerce as most recently embodied in the Affirmation of Commitments.”