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Web-Name Expansion to Proceed, CEO of Internet’s Overseer Says

The nonprofit overseeing the Internet’s address system plans to proceed with a program that may add hundreds of top-level domains such as .apple and .nyc to the Web over the objections of large brand owners.

Opponents have failed to present new arguments against the expansion, which has been under consideration for at least six years, Rod Beckstrom, chief executive officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said today after a speech in Washington.

“Many participants feel they’ve waited for many years already, and there were no reasons given for the delay,” Beckstrom said. “The reality is some of the parties that are issuing complaints right now issued letters as a part of this program and their changes were accommodated.”

Icann, manager of the Web’s address system under a U.S. Commerce Department contract, will start accepting applications for new Internet suffixes on Jan. 12. The Marina del Rey, California-based group may approve hundreds of new address extensions to the right of the “dot,” including company and brand names, cities, and almost any word in any language.

General Electric Co., Coca-Cola Co. and more than 50 other U.S. companies have signed a petition saying the program will increase their costs, confuse customers and fuel Internet fraud. The petition calls on the Commerce Department to persuade Icann to delay the program.

The Association of National Advertisers, rallying industry opposition to the expansion, suggested changes yesterday to Icann, including creating a “Do Not Sell” list of brands and setting up a team to seek ways to fix program “deficiencies” subject to approval by Icann’s board.

Icann approved the expansion in June to spur online innovation. Each domain name application will cost $185,000 under the program.

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