Despite protests and threats of legal action, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is pushing ahead with its plans to expand the availability of top-level domains. The plan, approved in June of 2011, will potentially lead to a flood of new name space for websites beyond the established national TLDs (like .us and .uk) and generic TLDs such as .com, .net. and .gov.
Starting January 12, ICANN will begin accepting applications for TLDs, with a registration fee of $185,000. But there's no timetable for the approval of applications, and according to a report by Reuters, it will start off slowly. ICANN has also promised to quickly take down sites under the new TLD system that violate registered trademarks.
As we reported in November, the Association of National Advertisers and other member organizations of the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight have been lobbying heavily against the plan, out of concerns that it will force companies to register domains across each of the new TLDs registered to defend their trademarks and avoid potential Internet name grabs, either by "cyber-squatters" seeking to sell the registered domains at a profit, or by criminals seeking to use the domains for phishing attacks and other forms of Internet fraud against their customers. Dan Jaffe, the executive vice president for government relations at ANA, claimed that the new TLDs could cost companies millions by forcing them to register domains defensively and constantly monitor new websites for trademark infringements.