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article imageICANN investigates inappropiate usage of .sucks domain name

By James Walker     Apr 10, 2015 in Internet
ICANN is investigating a Canadian domain registrar that is using the ".sucks" domain to get sums of up to $2,500 from celebrities and brands who are eager to protect themselves from the domain being used to negatively portray their company.
The domain registrar in question is Vox Populi of Ottawa. The company accepts applications for ".sucks" domains from tradeholders and celebrities before it's open to public applicants.
It uses guide prices of $2,499 for the domains. CEO John Berard told CBC News that most have sold through resellers for around $2,000 a year.
Berard told CBC that .sucks is meant to create destinations for companies to interact with their critics. He claimed Vox Populi was acting "well within the lines of ICANN rules and the law." Domains purchased by companies so far include youtube.sucks, visa.sucks, yahoo.sucks and bankofamerica.sucks.
A collection of companies in the technology industry have now formed an advisory group and complained to ICANN about the "predatory" .sucks rollout though. Members include Microsoft, Verizon and eBay.
ICANN, the corporation that manages and oversees all the domain names on the internet, has now sent a letter to the US Federal Trade Commission and Canada's Office of Consumer Affairs to establish whether Vox Populi is acting illegally with its offers.
The advisory group has said that Vox Populi relies on the risk of a .sucks site becoming available to a normal consumer for its "coercive scheme" to be effective. The registrar will be selling .sucks domains from $10 a year in September. The idea is that companies will want to buy domains with their names to prevent the public creating sites filled with negative criticism about them.
ICANN noted in its letter that Vox Populi may be declared in breach of its contract if its practices are found to be illegal. The ".sucks" domain itself is one of nearly 600 new top-level domains recently introduced to help companies identify themselves and to counter the drastically declining numbers of available domains.
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