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Type: Advocacy Initiative
Industry: Internet
Founded: November 2011
Founder(s): ANA
Headquarters: New York
Country: USA
Key People
Dan Jaffe, ANA EVP for Government Relations

The Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) is an advocacy organization that was created by the Association of National Advertisers in November, 2011, to fight ICANN's program to expand the number of generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) in the Domain Name System. The program opened on schedule on January 12, 2012. The fact that the group was created well after the May, 2011 approval of the program, compromised its stance to many ICANN commentators. They were criticized as being late to the game, and given ANA's prior participation in developing the program were also seen as chastising a program that they knew about and did not work with at a more appropriate time. It was dramatic timing for large corporations to come out against the deal just months before applications were to be accepted, given that ICANN had been developing a new gTLD program through its multi-stakeholder model essentially from the organization's very beginnings.[1]


On June 20, 2011, ICANN announced its approval of the new gTLD program during the ICANN 41 meeting in Singapore. The program was scheduled to be implemented on January 12, 2012.[2] Following ICANN's announcement, some groups and individuals expressed their objection. ANA was specifically concerned of the .brand domains plan on behalf of its many, large corporate backers.[3] Other objection existed, such as that from former ICANN Chairwoman Esther Dyson, who also took issue with the implications for trademark owners as well as end-users.[4]

ANA/Brand Owners Opposition to the new gTLD Program

On August 4, 2011, ANA President and CEO Robert Liodice wrote to Rod Beckstrom, President of ICANN regarding the new generic top level domain names (gTLDs) program. In his letter, Liodice pointed out that the 400 member companies of ANA strongly opposed ICANN's plan to add a possibly unlimited number of TLDs. The organization believed that the program does not provide benefit to the Internet community, and that it will only cause harm and damage to brand owners and to consumers. According to him, once the program is implemented it will increase the incidence of cybersquatting and other cyber crimes. He cited ANA's own research, which found that the proposed TLD expansion is not supported by a majority of businesses, consumers, academics including private and government agencies. He also quoted the statement of former ICANN Chairwoman Esther Dyson that the new program is a "way for registries and registrars to make money, there are huge trademark issues, it is offensive and will create a lot of litigation". In addition, Liodice enumerated some sections of the Economic Considerations in the Expansion of Generic-Top Level Domain Names, Phase II Reports: Case Studies wherein experts opined that there is no scarcity of gTLDs, that the last ICANN TLD expansion provided little benefit, and thus it was a failure, and that the implementation of new TLD expansion may result in the following economic harms:

Mr. Liodice also claimed that ICANN violated its Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Commerce as well as the Affirmation of Commitments and the ICANN Code of Conduct. Despite Liodice's strong criticism to ICANN, he expressed the willingness of ANA to work collaboratively with ICANN to develop better solutions for the benefit of the entire Internet community, such as the systematic and one by one implementation of TLDs. However, he threatened that if ICANN disregards the concerns raised by brand owners through ANA and push through with the implementation of the new gTLD program, ANA will take all measures to prevent it.[5] [6]

ICANN Response to ANA/Brand Owners Opposition

On August 9, 2011, Rod Beckstrom sent ICANN's response to the issues raised by brand owners through Liodice. In his correspondence, Beckstrom defended that the new gTLD program was developed the entire ICANN community worldwide based on a multi-stake holder model in accordance with the Internet governing body's core values and responsibilities set forth in the Affirmation of Commitments. Beckstrom described Liodice's letter as "incorrect and problematic in several respects". He stressed that the new gTLD program received a strong consensus internationally and was approved by a super majority vote from the members of its Generic Names Supporting Organizations. The ICANN community spent 6 years in developing and planning the policy for the new gTLD program by conducting different measures such multiple public meetings and comments to ensure the security, stability and resiliency of the internet. He pointed out that Liodice's letter demonstrated a lack of understanding about the program when he said it is an unrestricted expansion. According to Beckstrom, if Liodice conducted further research, he should have learned the following:

  • restrictions on delegation rates
  • string requirements and limitations
  • required applicant background, financial and technical qualifications
  • objection processes for infringing and other inappropriately applied-for strings
  • standing registry operator obligations in the registry agreement

He also criticized Liodice's allegations that the new gTLD program will result in "enormous financial burdens" and argued that the quotations he used from the economic studies were biased with unsupported conclusions that more domain names will be exposed to heightened cyber security attacks and violations of consumer privacy. He explained that ICANN formed a team of international experts who developed innovative safeguards against trademark abuses and malicious Internet practices. In addition, the concerns of Intellectual Property stakeholders were well documented and the ICANN Board created a team of 18 IP experts, the Implementation Recommendation Team, to create additional Rights Protection Mechanisms (RPMs) such as:

  • Creation of a Trademark Clearinghouse
  • Implementation of the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS)
  • Establishment of Requirements for Maintenance of a “thick” Whois Database in all new gTLD Registries
  • Establsihment of Post-Delegation Dispute Mechanism to Attach Liability to Registry Operators

Moreover, Beckstrom pointed out that ANA had been involved in the development process, albeit was not overly active, but itsstated concerns submitted on Decemebr 15, 2008 regarding trademark protection,transparency of participants had been taken into consideration. He also said that ANA is welcome to continue to participate more actively in ICANN development processes.[7] [8]

Establishment of CRIDO

Following the exchange of letters between the two organization, ANA led the establishment of CRIDO to stop ICANN in implementing the new gTLD program. Its membership is composed of 87 companies and associations.[9].

CRIDO's Issues with gTLD Program

CRIDO identified 10 reasons to justify its campaign against ICANN's new gTLD program, which include:[10]]

  • Flawed Justification
  • Excessive Costs
  • Harm to Brands
  • Phishing, Spoofing, and Cybersquatting
  • Security and Trust
  • Lack of Consensus
  • Inadequate Protection of Brands
  • Negative Impact On Small Business and Charities
  • Reduced Investment by Intellectual Property Owners
  • Fix What Is Broken First

Petition to the Department of Commerce

CRIDO sent a petition to the Department of Commerce objecting to the proposed TLD expansion program. The petition has 49 associations and 54 companies as signatories, including major brands such as Adidas, Dell Inc.,Toyota, Walmart etc.[11]

A complete list of petitioners can be found here

Congressional Hearings on ICANN's new gTLD Expansion

ANA/CRIDO Testimony

On December 8, 2011, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation conducted a hearing in connection with ICANN's new gTLD expansion program. Dan Jaffe, EVP, Government Relations of ANA and CRIDO representative, testified to the members of the Senate committee that the program is harmful to marketers, consumers and to the marketplace as a whole. In addition, he said that ICANN failed to maintain its responsibilities, particularly in ensuring that its policies are impartial, as the administrator of the Internet. He also enumerated the 10 key reasons to delay the implementation of the program.[12][13]

ICANN Testimony

ICANN Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz represented the international Internet governing body during the Senate hearing.[14] He informed the Senate that the ICANN community worked hard in the development of the new gTLD program with the aim to introduce competition and innovation. He stressed that the careful planning, balance and expert analysis, independent studies, and thousands of pages of public comments that were considered including advice from government agencies and professionals during the development process to ensure strong consumer and corporate protection.[15]

Other Witnesses

Fiona Alexander, Associate Administrator of International Affairs from the NTIA-DoC also testified in the Senate. She emphasized that NTIA is dedicated to maintaining an open and global internet to serve as an important instrument in economic growth, innovation and information exchange. She said that her department is an active supporter of multi-stake holder governance processes like ICANN, and that these methods are believed to be the best way to achieve those objectives. She also pointed out that the strength of the multi-stakeholder approach enables faster, flexible and decentralized problem-solving in Internet policy-making.[16]

Esther Dyson, former Chairwoman of ICANN, was also present in the Senate committee hearing and testified that adding new TLD will only unnecessary complexity into the system. According to her, consumers will not benefit from it and the true benefactors will be companies like Google, trademark lawyers, registries and registrars. Dyson suggested that ICANN should conduct broader public consultation and come up with stronger front-end protections for domain names.[17]

Angela F. Williams, General Counsel of The Young Men’s Christian Association of the United States of America (YMCA), also testified representing ICANN's Not-for-Profit Operational Concerns Constituency. She asked the Senate committee to investigate the issue through the eyes of non-profits. She also requested ICANN to continue accept input from stakeholders, particularly from non profit organizations.[18]

House Hearing

On December 14, a second hearing was held, hosted by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. Those speaking at this hearing were Fiona Alexander from NTIA, Dan Jaffe from ANA, Kurt Pritz from ICANN, Employ Media CEO Thomas Embrescia, and Joshua Bourne representing CADNA.[19]

The result of the House hearing was the suggestion that the program be delayed until there is a consensus between all relevant stakeholders, made by Rep. Eshoo. Pritz and Alexander came to the defense of ICANN's Multistakeholder Model, arguing that the process had not been rushed. It had taken ICANN seven years to get to the point where all the issues had been discussed and no new issues were being raised, during which time they had consulted all the relevant stakeholders. Alexander made the point that "consensus" does not always mean "unanimity."