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Username: art jaeger
Date/Time: Tue, October 24, 2000 at 3:49 PM GMT
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Subject: Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union Endorse Internet Suffix for Co-ops


The Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union of the United States strongly support the proposal for a top-level domain for cooperatives. Establishing a new restricted suffix of .co-op will enhance consumer choice and competition by helping differentiate cooperatives in the electronic marketplace.

Cooperatives have been benefitting consumers in this country for more than 150 years. Since their primary goal is to meet needs, not generate profits, cooperatives can serve their members at low cost, saving them money. In addition, cooperatives often provide services not readily available from for-profit businesses. Cooperatives also enhance competition in the marketplace by providing consumers with an alternative source of products and services.

Worldwide, some 750,000 cooperatives serve more than 725 million member-owners. Co-ops provide services in virtually all areas of the economy, including finance administration, electricity and telecommunications, housing, food retailing, child care, health care and funeral and memorial services.

Unfortunately, right now it is hard for consumers to find cooperatives on the Internet. Co-ops are forced to chose between the suffixes .com and .org, neither of which accurately characterizes their business structure. Cooperatives form a distinct and unique sector of the economy, and they need to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Likewise, consumers need a way to find cooperatives. The .co-op domain would accomplish both of these goals, while also relieving the crowded field of .coms. It would reflect the unique business structure of cooperatives while opening up a wide range of new domain names in a way other sector-specific domains cannot.

The proposal for a .co-op domain, put forward by the National Cooperative Business Association in partnership with Poptel, Great Britain’s leading cooperative internet services and solution provider, has one other advantage. From the fees paid by registrants, the .co-op domain would establish a “digital divide fund” that will help limited-resource co-ops, such as those in developing countries, do business on the Internet.

For all these reasons, we hope the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will quickly approve the NCBA proposal for the .co-op suffix. If you have questions or need more information on how a domain for cooperatives would benefit consumers, please feel free to contact us.

Art Jaeger for Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of America, and Gene Kimmelman, Co-Director, Washington Office, Consumers Union of the United States



Link: Consumer Federation of America

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