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National Restaurant Association - NRA urges delay in new domain-name process

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NRA urges delay in new domain-name process

A new program to expand Internet domain names will cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars and confuse consumers, the National Restaurant Association said in testimony submitted to a Senate committee Dec. 8.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held the hearing to look into the growing controversy over the plan by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to open up the market for "generic top-level domains" starting in January.

Top-level domains are the words that appear to the right of the "dot" in Internet addresses, such as .com, .org and .net. Twenty-two top-level domains are now approved for use in the United States. ICANN plans to begin accepting applications Jan. 12, 2012, for hundreds and ultimately thousands of new top-level domains. Applicants could claim virtually any word, including generic terms such as “restaurant” or “bank,” a geographic location, or a specific brand name.

The NRA and more than 100 other leading business groups and companies in the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight argue that ICANN's program would force businesses to buy more domain names to protect their brands and trademarks -- and confuse Web users by spreading Internet searches across hundreds of even thousands of new top-level domains.

The NRA and its allies in CRIDO argue that the program will divert hundreds of thousands of dollars in company budgets to domain-name registration as small and large businesses alike apply for new top-level domains. "These are dollars far better spent reinvesting in our businesses," sais Scott Defife, the Association's executive vice president for policy and government affairs.

Costs would include a $185,000 application fee for each new top-level domain. Restaurants and other companies also likely would be forced to register numerous second-level domains (i.e., the words to the left of the dot) within the new top-level domains.

Congress scheduled hearings on the ICANN process this month after hearing from businesses and non-profit organizations alarmed that the new top-level domain process was being rolled out with only minimal steps to educate and inform businesses and consumers.

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