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Username: larryblanchard
Date/Time: Tue, October 24, 2000 at 6:38 PM GMT
Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer V4.01 using Windows NT
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Subject: CUNA Mutual Group Supports .co-op TLD


CUNA Mutual Group strongly supports the proposal by the Cooperative League of the USA (dba National Cooperative Business Association) and Poptel, Great Britain’s leading cooperative Internet services and solution provider, to create a new top-level Internet domain (TLD) of “.co-op”.  This Internet address suffix would be restricted to cooperative organizations that subscribe to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) Cooperative Principles, such as member ownership and control.

CUNA Mutual was formed in 1935 to provide insurance protection to not-for-profit credit unions and their members.  Today it is the leading provider of insurance and other financial products and services to nearly 11,000 cooperative credit unions with 80 million members in the United States alone.

Cooperatives are unique economic entities that embrace democratic principles of ownership, control and distribution of benefits.  They play a vital role in the economies of nations around the world with 725 million members participating in 750,000 cooperatives.  Their role in developing economies is even more critical because they are often the only means available for disadvantaged peoples to obtain the resources needed to escape the bonds of poverty and economic stagnation.  The idealism and unique operating characteristics of cooperatives create a natural alliance that spans the globe.  With the Internet rapidly transforming the world into a single marketplace in commerce, information and ideas, a TLD of “.co-op” provides an ideal means of identifying these organizations in that marketplace.

Not only would “.co-op” provide an invaluable means of identifying cooperatives on the Worldwide Web, it would also offer a solution to the confusion that now exists when cooperatives are required to adopt the same TLDs of .com or .org used by for-profit commercial enterprises.  With probably half the world’s population touched in some critical way by cooperatives, it is important that their distinctiveness as unique economic entities be preserved as we progress into the 21st century.

The joint proposal of NCBA and Poptel to authorize a TLD suffix of .co-op includes an aspect that will further advance the goal of the international cooperative movement to bring the benefits of an Internet economy to all people.  The “digital divide fund,” supported by a share of registration fees for the “.co-op” suffix, will be dedicated to helping limited resource cooperatives participate in online commerce.

We urge the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to quickly approve the TLD suffix of “.co-op”.  In doing so, it will provide critical support for the international cooperative movement’s transition to the global Internet economy.

Michael B. Kitchen
Chief Executive Officer
CUNA Mutual Group
5910 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53705


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