Dec 23 2011

FTC Locks Horns With ICANN Over Domain Names — Quick Take

ICANN's decision to allow custom gTLDs concerns the FTC and others.

For most casual users of the web, a website’s generic top-level domain (gTLD) typically ends in either .com, .net or .org, or, for school and government sites, .edu or .gov. There are, of course, other gTLDs out there, including .us, .biz and .info, but the aforementioned three are by far the more prominently used of the 22 available gTLDs.

But ICANN has decided to open the spigot and allow custom gTLDs, while also creating a specific gTLD for adult entertainment sites at .xxx.

ICANN’s decision has not been without its critics, and now the Federal Trade Commission is among them. IT security blog ThreatPost reports that the government agency sent a letter to ICANN urging the organization to consider its decision carefully:

“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," the letter states. “In particular, the proliferation of existing scams, such as phishing, is likely to become a serious challenge given the infinite opportunities that scam artists will now have at their fingertips. Fraudsters will be able to register misspellings of businesses, including financial institutions, in each of the new gTLDs, create copycat websites, and obtain sensitive consumer data with relative ease before shutting down the site and launching a new one.”

The announced change in gTLDs has already led to defensive domain squatting by companies attempting to preserve brand identity and prevent brand hijacking by an unsavory gTLD like .xxx. Many IT security experts have also echoed the FTC’s security concerns.

Read more about the change in gTLDs and the FTC’s disagreement with ICANN in ThreatPost.

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