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Questionable Impact for US House Hearing on New gTLDs

This morning, the US House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet led by Representative Goodlatte (R - VA) conducted a hearing on New gTLDs. Kurt Pritz, Senior Vice President from ICANN did his best to alleviate concerns about the risks posed to intellectual property rights and consumers as the result of the New gTLD Program and reiterated that the process to launch new gTLDs has been underway for 7 years.

A number of other witnesses were also present. Representing intellectual property interests, general consensus among them was that while they saw merit in the new gTLD Program, and in particular the launch of new IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names), concerns over the resolution of outstanding GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) issues, timing and scope still exist.

The session lasted a little more than two and a half hours.

Some of the highlights of the hearing included:

  • Congressman Conyers' (D - MI) questioning of statements made by Peter Dengate Thrush about the "party" to be thrown after the new gTLD Program is approved on June 20th
  • Multiple inquiries by the Subcommittee about ICANN Staff salaries
  • Congressman Issa (R - CA) suggesting that domains be sold for pennies to intellectual property owners

It was suggested that additional hearings be held, and Kurt Pritz said that he would be amenable to that.

Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, the US no longer has unilateral oversight over ICANN thanks to the Affirmation of Commitments. The US can voice their concerns to ICANN by way of GAC participation, which they have already done. And unless the US is ready to reconsider amending the IANA contract for the technical management of the root zone, the actual impact of the hearing seems questionable at best.

Correction: A correction was made to the title of this post, replacing "Senate" with "House" (Apr. 5, 2011).

By Elisa Cooper, Head of Marketing, GoDaddy Corporate Domains

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