In an unprecedented move, ICANN has threatened to cancel a top-level domain registry operator’s contract.
Employ Media, the .jobs registry, faces losing its TLD if it does not shut down Universe.jobs, the controversial jobs board operated by its partner, the DirectEmployers Association.
In a letter to the company (pdf), ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey wrote:
By not establishing any meaningful restrictions on who may register second level registrations in the .JOBS TLD, Employ Media put in operation a TLD where anyone can register names, thus defeating the purpose for which the sponsored TLD came into existence.
We are calling on Employ Media to take immediate actions to implement restricted registration policies that support the purpose for which the .JOBS top-level domain was established, and to cancel registrations and/or disavow themselves of the benefits of any registrations that are owned by related parties, if any.
The move comes following a complaint filed by the so-called .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, made up of jobs board such as Monster.com and CollegeRecruiter.com.
They’re annoyed that the registry licensed 40,000 premium geographic and vocational .jobs domains to DirectEmployers for Universe.jobs, which has started to compete with them.
It appears that Employ Media and SHRM, through the Direct Employers Association, intend to use the .JOBS TLD primarily to compete with other internet job boards. Such use is inconsistent with the purpose stated in the .JOBS Charter and represented to the ICANN community.
The deal came as a result of a change to the .jobs registry contract, made through ICANN’s Registry Services Evaluation Process, that allowed Employ Media to lift a rule that restricted registered domain names only to the names of companies.
What the RSEP didn’t do was change the .jobs Charter, which restricts “who” may register .jobs domains. Yet, weirdly, the Charter is partly the basis for ICANN’s threat.
Jeffrey refers to the Charter restrictions, which are easily circumvented, as “specious” and “do not serve the international human resource management community”.
This is the Charter that ICANN approved back in 2005, and which hasn’t changed since, remember.
To come back into compliance, ICANN wants Employ Media to shut down Universe.jobs and get back to selling company-name registrations.
I think it’s likely Employ Media will appeal, possibly by taking the case to arbitration, as its contract allows.