Seventeen US Congressmen have put their names to a letter asking ICANN to delay its new generic top-level domains program.
The bipartisan group was led by Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the House technology subcommittee that held a hearing into new gTLDs last week. They wrote:
Although we believe expanding gTLDs is a worthy goal that may lead to increased competition on the Internet, we are very concerned that there is a significant uncertainty in this process for businesses, non-profit organizations, and consumers. To that end, we urge you to delay the planned January 12, 2012 date for the acceptance of applications for new gTLDs.
The letter (pdf), sent yesterday to ICANN president Rod Beckstrom and chairman Steve Crocker, goes on to note the objections of several groups, including the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight, that have opposed the program in recent weeks.
Given these widespread concerns, a short delay will allow interested parties to work with ICANN and offer changes to alleviate many of them, specifically concerns over law enforcement, cost and transparency that were discussed in recent Congressional hearings.
It is notable that the letter was sent directly to ICANN’s top brass.
Previous requests of this kind have been sent to ICANN’s overseers in the US Department of Commerce, which has already indicated that it does not intend to strong-arm ICANN into changing its new gTLD plans.
ICANN’s senior vice president Kurt Pritz said last week that the chance of delay was “above zero”.
Whether this latest letter changes the math remains to be seen.
Opposition to the January 12 launch date in the US currently appears to be reaching a critical mass.