Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Domain “slammer” finally gets suspended by ICANN

The beneficiary of the long-running Domain Registry of America scam is finally at risk of losing its ICANN accreditation.

ICANN has suspended Brandon Gray Internet Services, which does business as NameJuice.com, due to the “deceptive” marketing practices carried out by its “resellers”.

The company won’t be able to register any gTLD names or receive transfers for 90 days.

If NameJuice hasn’t sorted out its act by October 17, it faces the risk of losing its accreditation permanently.

The company, you will recall, is the primary beneficiary of the “slamming” scam, which tricks customers of other registrars into transferring their names with confusing, invoice-style junk mail.

Slammers have been operating under various names including Domain Registry of America, Domain Registry of Europe and Domain Registry of Canada for close to 15 years.

I received one in 2011 from the “Domain Renewal Group”, which I blogged about here.

It was sued by Register.com in 2002 over the practice, was forced into a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission in 2003, and has been involved in tangles with regulators all over the world for the last decade.

But it seems ICANN’s hands were tied until Brandon Gray signed the new 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement, which gives ICANN’s compliance department more power over resellers.

ICANN said:

Since at least 2009, ICANN has received numerous complaints from Registered Name Holders, registrars, and various ICANN Supporting Organizations and Advisory Committees regarding the business solicitation practices of Brandon Gray’s resellers. Such practices were not specifically prohibited under the 2001 and 2009 RAAs. Section 3.12 of the 2013 RAA, however, requires registrars to ensure its reseller’s actions comply with the RAA, as well as the Registrants’ Benefits and Responsibilities Specification, which protects Registered Name Holders from false or deceptive practices.

ICANN fingered “reseller” Registration Services Inc as the party behind DROA and the other slamming scams.

In order to cure the latest breach, NameJuice has until August 8 to provide a tonne of information about Registration Services, including its certificate of incorporation, samples of its mailshots, and details of how a sample of specific domains came to be transferred.

In order to avoid losing its accreditation by October 10, the company will also have to promise to force its reseller to stop its deceptive marketing and provide ICANN with samples of future mailings.

NameJuice has 13 tasks in total to comply with to avoid termination proceedings; it’s looking promising that ICANN will finally shut down this blight on the industry just a few months from now.

The irony is, of course, if NameJuice loses its accreditation, all of the names that were obtained under false pretenses will not revert naturally to their original registrar. Instead, if ICANN follows its standard practice, they’ll be transferred in bulk to a third registrar.

You can read the breach notice here and the suspension notice here.

Comment Tagged: , , , , , ,

.tk passes 25 million domains

The .tk registry has become only the second TLD to pass 25 million domain names.

Netherlands-based Dot TK passed the milestone at the weekend, according to statistics posted on its web site, and today has 25,068,128 domains under management.

It’s grown by a whopping 837,703 names in the last 30 days alone.

That means Tokelau, the tiny island nation the ccTLD represents, has a nominal 17,900 domains per citizen.

The reason for the huge numbers is that .tk names are usually free to register anywhere in the world, with Dot TK using a freemium model through which it only makes money from add-on services.

.tk became the largest ccTLD last year, hitting 16.7 million names in April 2013 and passing Germany’s .de, which today has about 15.7 million domains under management.

Being free, you’d expect there to be a disproportionate amount of nefarious activity in .tk, but that does not appear to be the case any more.

The TLD doesn’t show up in the top 10 most abused TLDs in the most recent report of the Anti-Phishing Working Group (pdf).

Architelos says (pdf) it’s the 47th-safest out of 72 TLDs, scoring it better than .com, .net, .co and many other popular TLDs.

Comment Tagged: ,

That’s all folks! Final gTLD app gets approved

ICANN has finally finished evaluating all 1,930 new gTLD applications from the 2012 round.

Indian conglomerate Tata Group’s dot-brand .tata passed Extended Evaluation (pdf) on Friday, having apparently secured the non-objection of Morocco, which has a province of the same name.

Calculated from Reveal Day — June 13, 2012 — it’s taken a little over two years (765 days) for every bid to pass through first Initial Evaluation and then, if necessary, Extended Evaluation.

Calculated from the first batch of Initial Evaluation results being released, it’s 483 days.

A total of 1,783 applications passed IE. A further 38 failed, of which 35 passed EE. There have been 211 withdrawals so far and, due to contention, another 380 are expected.

5 Comments Tagged: , , , ,

Dot-brands get another year to sign ICANN contract

ICANN has offered dot-brand gTLD applicants the ability to delay the signing of their Registry Agreements until July 29, 2015, nine months later than under the former process.

The extension was offered by ICANN after talks with the Brand Registry Group, whose members felt pressured by the old deadline.

All new gTLD applicants had previously been told they had nine months to sign the contract from the date they receive a so-called “Contracting Information Request” from ICANN.

For many applicants, those CIRs were sent out many months ago, leading to an October 29 deadline.

However, Specification 13 of the contract, which allows dot-brands to opt out of things like sunrise periods and equal treatment of registrars, was not finalized by ICANN until May 14 this year.

Only a minuscule number of dot-brands eligible to sign contracts — which is pretty much all of them — have so far opted to do so.

Bearing the Spec 13 delay in mind, ICANN is now offering would-be dot-brands the July 2015 deadline instead, as long as they show “good faith” by responding to their CIR by September 1.

What this means is that dot-brands might not be hitting the internet for another year.

For non-branded gTLD registries — some of whom hope the big brands’ adoption and marketing will help the visibility of new gTLDs in general — this may be disappointing.

Comment Tagged: , , ,

New domain scam? ICANN issues vague warning

Kevin Murphy, July 16, 2014, Domain Services

ICANN has warned internet users about a domain name scam that exploits the ICANN name and logo.

Not giving away much information, ICANN said in a statement:

It has been brought to ICANN’s attention that some online entities have attempted to sell fraudulent “certificates”, which they claim are required to protect generic top-level domain names. The perpetuators of this scam threaten registrants on the protection service with the objective of securing a fee from the registrant. The “certificates” look official and include an unauthorized use of the ICANN logo.

Please note that ICANN does not issue certificates to registrants and does not collect fees from registrants directly.

It’s not clear whether the scam is related to the “ICANN certificates” fraudsters sometimes demand as part of domain appraisal scams, which have been well-documented online.

The reference to a “protection service” and new gTLDs suggest this might be something new.

I asked ICANN for a sample of the scam in question yesterday but haven’t heard back yet.

UPDATE: The certificates look like this:

and this:

Comment Tagged: , , ,