The Association of National Advertisers offered a small olive branch to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, just three days before the organization is set to begin accepting applications for new top-level domains.
In an open letter to Icann's board of directors, the ANA proposed a way forward "in the interest of being constructive" suggesting that Icann go ahead with accepting applications this Thursday, but that stakeholders concerned about protecting their brands be put on a temporary "Do Not Sell" list at no cost.
Since Icann approved the TLD plan this summer, advertisers have argued Icann's plan would be a financial burden to trademark and brand owners who would need to shell out $185,000 to apply for a TLD (not to mention defensive registration costs and other annual fees), confuse consumers and increase opportunities for fraud, identity theft and cyber crime.
Despite a strong lobbying campaign spearheaded by the ANA that resulted in congressional hearings and letters from more than 160 companies and organizations, lawmakers and regulators urging Icann to make changes and slow down the process, Icann has held steadfast to its plan to move forward.
Now time is just about run out. In his letter, Bob Liodice, ANA's president and CEO positioned the last-minute proposal as "reasonable and simple." But he also reminded Icann of the strong opposition it is facing for its plan.
"Never before has Icann faced this level of public scrutiny and concern by policy makers at the highest levels of government and from stakeholders which have, heretofore, been all but ignored by Icann, despite Icann's insistence that it carefully considered in its own process all the concerns being expressed now and over the past five months in the court of public opinion," Liodice wrote. "Destructive and costly litigation can hopefully be avoided if you accept this proposal and if all parties work together in good faith. . . . We are asking Icann to do nothing more than maintain the status quo for critical groups that have established serious concerns for a limited period of time while the parties work together in good faith and avoid further conflict."
Icann was not immediately available for comment.