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National Restaurant Association - ICANN plans to move forward with new domain-name plan

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ICANN plans to move forward with new domain-name plan

The non-profit organization that manages the Internet domain-name process appears to be moving ahead with its plan to broaden the number of generic top-level domains, despite the broad concerns of business groups, U.S. government officials and others.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers says it will open the application window for new top-level domains as planned on Jan. 12. These domains are the words that appear to the right of the "dot" in Internet addresses, such as .org and .com. There are currently 22 generic top-level domains. ICANN's application process could ultimately expand the list to thousands of new domain names.

The Commerce Department last week joined key U.S. lawmakers and Federal Trade Commission leaders in asking ICANN to review its program. While some officials have called on ICANN to halt the domain-name expansion plan completely, the Commerce official who wrote to ICANN Jan. 3 cited "tremendous concerns" by stakeholders about "unintended and unforeseen consequences" of expanding the domain-name list, and asked ICANN to take steps to prevent negative results and better educate consumers and businesses about the application process.

The National Restaurant Association is part of a coalition of more than 160 business groups and companies that has been urging Congress and the Commerce Department to slow down the process. The Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight has met with Commerce Department and congressional leaders in recent weeks to describe mounting concerns of U.S. businesses that the new domain-name process will cost businesses millions of dollars as they are forced to register new domains to protect their trademarks and brands.

The National Restaurant Association last month submitted testimony to Congress registering the restaurant industry's strong opposition to the Jan. 12 rollout.

The fee to apply for a new top-level domain is $185,000. According to ICANN's Applicant Guidebook, the application process opens Jan. 12 and closes March 29, 2012. ICANN is not expected to release the names of approved new top-level domains until 2013.

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