In a recent letter to officials of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.) asked the Commission to monitor an Internet issue of concern to consumers and CPAs.
Heller, a member of the Senate committee that has jurisdiction over both the FTC and the Internet, voiced concerns regarding the potential confusion arising from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) failure to implement proper safeguards when awarding generic top-level domain strings (gTLDs).
“For many, a gTLD indicates to a consumer that a website is trustworthy, such as the use of .gov, .org, .edu, or .mil,” Heller wrote on November 2. “Unfortunately, ICANN is already demonstrating that it is not making decisions in line with the interests of consumers, with ‘.cpa’ being a prime example. While most would agree that .cpa has a strong connection to a regulated industry—the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) community—ICANN has not recognized this fact and will be auctioning the domain name soon.”
Noting that ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has recognized that gTLDs such as “.cpa” could be used to deceive consumers of CPA services in the US and around the world if granted to those outside the global CPA community, Heller is urging the FTC to monitor ICANN, as well as applicants of gTLDs to ensure they are appropriately verified.
He stressed that the importance of the public trust to the CPA profession around the world cannot be overstated, and the potential harm to the public of fraudulent or illegal use of a “.cpa” domain is a serious concern. “We must ensure that any entity with control over a .cpa domain name is qualified to utilize it,” he stated.