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ICANN to reveal Registrant Rights & Responsibilities (and here’s a draft copy)

Kevin Murphy, February 28, 2013, 20:55:17 (UTC), Domain Registrars

ICANN is set to publish and start promoting a new Registrant Rights & Responsibilities charter at some point over the next couple of days, we hear.
The one-page document is set to become an important part of CEO Fadi Chehade’s plan to make the domain name industry appear more trustworthy and likable in the eyes of the internet-using public.
He first revealed the idea during a meeting with registries and registrars in Amsterdam last month.
An ICANN-commissioned study showed that people have a very low opinion of the industry, he told them.
The new document is designed to address some of those concerns.
While the charter may be presented as originating in the industry, it was first drafted by ICANN and we hear that some registrars have been somewhat reluctant to agree to it.
“It’s like when you’re a kid and your dad gives you a birthday card to sign for your mom,” one registrar told us.
The legalese-stricken document that ICANN originally presented to them over-stretched and could have carried legal exposure, they added.
DI has been sent of copy of what we’re told is a close-to-final draft of the document, which we understand is more agreeable to most registrars. We’ve pasted it below in full.

Registrants’ Rights and Responsibilities
Domain Name Registrants’ Rights:

  1. Your domain name registration and any privacy services you may use in conjunction with it must be subject to a Registration Agreement with an ICANN Accredited Registrar.
    • You are entitled to review this Registration Agreement at any time, and download a copy for your records.
  2. You are entitled to accurate and accessible information about:
    • The identity of your ICANN Accredited Registrar;
    • The identity of any privacy service provider affiliated with your Registrar;
    • Your Registrar’s terms and conditions, including pricing information, applicable to domain name registrations;
    • The terms and conditions, including pricing information, applicable to any privacy services offered by your Registrar;
    • The customer support services offered by your Registrar and the privacy services provider, and how to access them;
    • How to raise concerns and resolve disputes with your Registrar and any privacy services offered by them; and
    • Instructions that explain your Registrar’s processes for registering, managing, transferring, renewing, and restoring your domain name registrations, including through any privacy services made available by your Registrar.
  3. You shall not be subject to false advertising or deceptive practices by your Registrar or though any privacy services made available by your Registrar. This includes deceptive notices, hidden fees, and any practices that are illegal under the consumer protection law of your residence.

Domain Name Registrants’ Responsibilities:

  1. You must comply with the terms and conditions posted by your Registrar, including applicable policies from your Registrar, the Registry and ICANN.
  2. You must review your Registrar’s current Registration Agreement, along with any updates.
  3. You will assume sole responsibility for the registration and use of your domain name.
  4. You must provide accurate information for publication in directories such as WHOIS, and promptly update this to reflect any changes.
  5. You must respond to inquiries from your Registrar within fifteen (15) days, and keep your Registrar account data current. If you choose to have your domain name registration renew automatically, you must also keep your payment information current.

It draws on changes ICANN and registrars have agreed to in the 2013 (hopefully) Registrar Accreditation Agreement, such as registrar commitments to provide basic information about themselves.
As for the 2013 RAA itself, we hear that ICANN wants to present a final version to its board of directors for approval during its public meeting in Beijing in early April.
That would mean opening it up for public comment next week, but registrars and ICANN have not yet agreed to a final draft for publication, despite now-daily negotiation meetings.
The major sticking point, we gather, is an amendment that would give ICANN a unilateral right to change the contract in future — similar to the proposed gTLD Registry Agreement provision currently causing a shitstorm in the new gTLD applicant community.
There’s also controversy about the fact that ICANN wants to restrict new gTLDs to only registrars that sign the new RAA, which is designed to be a carrot to get them to sign up even if their 2009/2001 RAAs are still active.

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Comments (9)

  1. That’s a pretty pathetic draft of domain name registrants’ “rights.” It doesn’t mention basic things like “due process”, or other basic legal rights, the right to renewals, right to notice for price changes, the right to transfer out of an existing registrar, etc.
    The “responsibilities” section is also flawed. Are Google and Microsoft now “solely responsible” for the use of the and domain names, and all spam that originates from user accounts? If so, there will be a pack of lawyers racing to the courthouse…..
    It’s better to have no document at all, rather than the document ICANN staff has prepared.

  2. Chris LaHatte says:

    Would the community support the Ombudsman having a role in this-I would be interested to hear what George says about this.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      I think we are jumping the gun for a work in progress. Most issues George raises are already covered by registry and registrar agreements, so we only need to communicate these already set rights

  3. Acro says:

    Unless it begins with “We the people…” it’s good only for toilet paper.

  4. Well said, Acro.
    Rubens: Registry and registrar agreements should say nothing at all about how a domain name is used (although a few of them have so-called “anti-abuse” provisions that were forced through via the back-door RSEP process; of course when VeriSign tried to do it for .com, they had to withdraw it due to the public outcry, and so that registry is safe). Issues of “use” and liability are best left to local law, in the legal jurisdiction of the registrant. They can better handle the nuances of user-generated content and other complex issues, under established legal principles, rather than some simplistic and blanket statement by ICANN that the registrant assumes responsibility for everything.
    Indeed, if you want an underlying principle, how about (as a quick draft) something like “registrant is entitled to the choice of national law under which it operates”? (this would protect a Swedish site that is entirely legal in Sweden from being interfered with by US authorities, e.g. ICE seizures, as an example) I’m sure others have many thoughtful suggestions they’d want entrenched in a statement of rights. [I’d establish a right to expect competitive pricing from registry operators, that registry operator prices be established via regular competitive tenders, for example]
    In conclusion, ICANN staff shouldn’t feed us gruel, and call it caviar. They should get their own house in order, rather than spend time watering down our rights and creating uncertainty about our liabilities.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      Decide if you want registrant protections from price increase or not, George. Current registry and registrar agreements provide that, but if you want to take them out, most of them will like your suggestion so they can raise prices any time without warning.

  5. Avri Doria says:

    This does seem to feed into the continuing trend of ICANN Staff unilateralism.

  6. theo says:

    Fadi wants to bring ICANN to a higher level.
    Good plan.
    Cept 99.99% of the internet users have no clue who or what ICANN is or does.
    Outside of the domain name industry 0% of the people know about ICANN.
    100% of the people who do not own a bike heard of the cheezy show called American Chopper (k the stats migbt be off here)
    Registrant Rights and Responsibilities introduced in 2009
    Well how many people do you think know about that one outside of the domain name industry ?
    I guess the same amount of people who wathed the boondock saints..
    Great flick never the less but not watched by billions of people .

  7. John Nagle, Silicon Valley, CA says:

    There are no “registrant’s rights” in this. This is a document drafted to be “satisfactory to registrars”. A real registrants’ rights contract would include:
    – When you lease a domain, it is your property for the duration of the lease. It cannot be taken from you without court action.
    – In the event of a disagreement with a registrar, you have the right to move a domain to another registrar over the objections of the sending registrar.
    – Registrars are financially liable to registrants for errors and omissions on domains they maintain.
    – No registrar contract can waive any of these provisions.

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