In­ter­net nam­ing body moves to crack down on Canadian ‘.sucks’

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The body that reg­u­lates In­ter­net ad­dresses is check­ing to see if it can crack down on a Canadian com­pany ac­cused of us­ing the new “.sucks” domain name to ex­tract ex­or­bi­tant sums from celebri­ties and com­pa­nies seek­ing to pro­tect their public brands.

The In­ter­net Cor­po­ra­tion for As­signed Names and Num­bers, or ICANN, on Thurs­day sent a let­ter to the U.S. Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion and Canada’s Of­fice of Con­sumer Af­fairs to see if the ac­tions of com­pany Vox Pop­uli Reg­istry Ltd. are il­le­gal.

ICANN ini­tially ap­proved of the so-called top-level domain name, among nearly 600 it has added re­cently to ex­pand be­yond com­mon names such as “.com,” “.org” and “.us.”

But it is back­track­ing af­ter an ad­vi­sory panel made up of in­dus­try groups and com­pa­nies like Mi­crosoft, Ver­i­zon and eBay com­plained last month.

Vox Pop­uli be­gan ac­cept­ing reg­is­tra­tions us­ing “.sucks” on March 30 from trade­mark hold­ers and celebri­ties be­fore it’s re­leased to public ap­pli­cants. It has rec­om­mended charg­ing US$2,499 a year for the priv­i­lege, and ac­cord­ing to Vox Pop­uli CEO John Ber­ard, most of the names have been sold by re­sellers for around US$2,000 a year.

So far, pur­chased names in­clude,, Visa. sucks, Banko­famer­, Ya­, Telus­mo­bil­ and other ma­jor brand names.

Ber­ard said Thurs­day that the domain name is meant to cre­ate des­ti­na­tions for com­pa­nies to in­ter­act with their crit­ics and called his com­pany’s busi­ness “well within the lines of ICANN rules and the law.”

Two weeks ago, the ad­vi­sory body called the In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Con­stituency rep­re­sent­ing ma­jor com­pa­nies and in­dus­try groups asked ICANN in a let­ter to halt the roll­out of “.sucks,” call­ing it a “shake­down scheme” and “preda­tory.”

Com­pa­nies like Go­ reg­is­ter some domain names for just US$1 a year, and Vox Pop­uli will of­fer con­sumers the right to se­cure a “.sucks” ad­dress for just US$10 a year start­ing in Septem­ber. The ad­vi­sory body says that the threat of open­ing a “.sucks” site to the av­er­age con­sumer later is “an es­sen­tial el­e­ment of Vox Pop­uli’s co­er­cive scheme.”

ICANN said in its let­ter that if Canadian or U.S. reg­u­la­tors find Vox Pop­uli’s ac­tions are il­le­gal, it could de­clare the com­pany in breach of its con­tract and seek to change the reg­istry’s be­hav­ior. It said it is also seek­ing other reme­dies within its agree­ment with the com­pany.

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