As the new generic top-level domain names begin to roll out, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has called for a halt on one possibility: “.sucks.”
In a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the lawmaker said the gTLD “has little or no socially redeeming value” and poses a costly threat to businesses.
Companies will be forced to defensively purchase the “.sucks” domain in order to protect their brand and avoid a competitor or detractor from registering “thiscompany.sucks,” Sen. Rockefeller wrote. “Three companies . . . have applied for this gTLD, claiming that it will foster debate and benefit consumers,” according to his letter to Stephen Crocker, chair of ICANN’s board. “I view it as little more than a predatory shakedown scheme. The business model behind this gTLD seems to be the following: forcing large corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and even individuals, to pay ongoing fees to prevent seeking the phrase ‘sucks’ appended to their names on the Internet.”
One of the companies referenced by Sen. Rockefeller, Donuts, told Ad Week in a statement that “the notion of open use” supports the registration of “.sucks.” The domains could even be positive, the company noted, offering the example of “Bullyingsucks.com.”
“While a critical interest of each of our gTLDs is the promotion of the First Amendment principle of free expression (including criticism and dissent), we also have taken care to provide tools for companies to effectively avoid costly defensive registrations,” the company said. “We are not soliciting, and have no plans to solicit ‘defensive registrations.’ ”
ICANN’s push for new domains has been controversial from the start, but the group has already received almost 2,000 applications for possible addresses ranging from “.home” to “.inc.” The first gTLDs, including “.bike” and “.singles,” went live in January.
To read Sen. Rockefeller’s letter to ICANN, click here.
Why it matters: Sen. Rockefeller argued that ICANN’s approval of “.sucks” will undermine the organization’s credibility and reinforce the belief that the expansion of domain names is intended to benefit the registration industry as opposed to enhancing the experience of Internet users generally. The lawmaker is not alone in his concerns – the Association of National Advertisers has also spoken out against the “.sucks” gTLD.