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.eu registry contract up for grabs

The European Commission has opened up the .eu registry contract to competitive bidding.

The sort-of ccTLD has been managed by EurID since it launched 2004 but its contract, which has already been extended to its maximum term, is due to expire in October next year.

Would-be usurpers must be not-for-profit organizations based in the European Union, according to a Commission RFP, which should narrow the field quite a lot.

The .eu space has 3.7 million registered domain names, growing at 5.4% a year. Considering that the TLD is open to all in the EU, the numbers fare poorly compared to many European ccTLDs.

The deadline for submissions is June 20.

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Four registrars terminated

Four small domain name registrars have lost their ICANN accreditation and their domain names have been transferred to another.

ICANN announced on Friday that US-based C I Host and Central Registrar (, along with Panama-based Power Brand Center have all been terminated for non-compliance.

Breach notices had been sent earlier this year covering everything from broken Whois to a failure to cooperate with audits.

Dotted Ventures, also American, had allowed its accreditation to lapse in March. It had, however, also been sent a breach notice for non-payment of ICANN fees in April.

The gTLD domains they managed, which amount to between a couple of hundred and a couple of thousand each, have all been transferred to UK-based Astutium, which isn’t much bigger.

Customers of each terminated registrar will receive notices from Astutium instructing them how to proceed, ICANN said. There shouldn’t be a cost to transfer, so any request for cash may be a phishing attack.

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ICM price cut sees 10 times more .xxx sales

ICM Registry saw 13,348 newly added .xxx domain name registrations in May, a period during which it and its registrars were offering the names at .com prices.

That’s more than 10 times the volume it shifted in January, the last month for which official numbers are available.

ICM dropped the registry fee for .xxx from $62 to $7.85 for the whole month, ostensibly (though not actually, I suspect) as part of its antitrust settlement with PornTube owner Manwin Licensing.

Registrants could register names for periods of up to 10 years at the promotional pricing, and registrants appear to have taken advantage.

The number of add-years for May was 25,733, according to ICM, an average of 1.9 years per name. That’s compared to its January rate of 1.37, when the .com average, for comparison, was 1.24.

About a quarter of the newly added names had been previously registered at full price and later allowed to drop.

The .xxx namespace now holds over 122,000 domains, still off its December 2012 peak of 142,000, according to the company.

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Verisign says people might die if new gTLDs are delegated

Kevin Murphy, June 2, 2013, Domain Policy

If there was any doubt in your mind that Verisign is trying to delay the launch of new gTLDs, its latest letter to ICANN and the Governmental Advisory Committee advice should settle it.

The company has ramped up its anti-expansion rhetoric, calling on the GAC to support its view that launching new gTLDs now will put the security and stability of the internet at risk.

People might die if some strings are delegated, Verisign says.

Among other things, Verisign is now asking for:

  • Each new gTLD to be individually vetted for its possible security impact, with particular reference to TLDs that clash with widely-used internal network domains (eg, .corp).
  • A procedure put in place to throttle the addition of new gTLDs, should a security problem arise.
  • A trial period for each string ICANN adds to the root, so that new gTLDs can be tested for security impact before launching properly.
  • A new process for removing delegated gTLDs from the root if they cause problems.

In short, the company is asking for much more than it has to date — and much more that is likely to frenzy its rivals — in its ongoing security-based campaign against new gTLDs.

The demands came in Verisign’s response to the GAC’s Beijing communique, which detailed government concerns about hundreds of applied-for gTLDs and provided frustratingly vague remediation advice.

Verisign has provided one of the most detailed responses to the GAC advice of any ICANN has received to date, discussing how each item could be resolved and/or clarified.

In general, it seems to support the view that the advice should be implemented, but that work is needed to figure out the details.

In many cases, it’s proposing ICANN community working groups. In others, it says each affected registry should negotiate individual contract terms with ICANN.

But much of the 12-page letter talks about the security problems that Verisign suddenly found itself massively concerned about in March, a week after ICANN started publishing Initial Evaluation results.

The letter reiterates the potential problem that when a gTLD is delegated that is already widely used on internal networks, security problems such as spoofing could arise.

Verisign says there needs to be an “in-depth study” at the DNS root to figure out which strings are risky, even if the volume of traffic they receive today is quite low.

It also says each string should be phased in with an “ephemeral root delegation” — basically a test-bed period for each new gTLD — and that already-delegated strings should be removed if they cause problems:

A policy framework is needed in order to codify a method for braking or throttling new delegations (if and when these issues occur) either in the DNS or in dependent systems that provides some considerations as to when removing an impacting string from the root will occur.

While it’s well-known that strings such as .home and .corp may cause issues due to internal name clashes and their already high volume of root traffic, Verisign seems to want every string to be treated with the same degree of caution.

Lives may be on the line, Verisign said:

The problem is not just with obvious strings like .corp, but strings that have even small query volumes at the root may be problematic, such as those discussed in SAC045. These “outlier” strings with very low query rates may actually pose the most risks because they could support critical devices including emergency communication systems or other such life-supporting networked devices.

We believe the GAC, and its member governments, would undoubtedly share our fundamental concern.

The impact of pretty much every recommendation made in the letter would be to delay or prevent the delegation of new gTLDs.

A not unreasonable interpretation of this is that Verisign is merely trying to protect its $800 million .com business by keeping competitors out of the market for as long as possible.

Remember, Verisign adds roughly 2.5 million new .com domains every month, at $7.85 a pop.

New gTLDs may well put a big dent in that growth, and Verisign doesn’t have anything to replace it yet. It can’t raise prices any more, and the patent licensing program it has discussed has yet to bear fruit.

But because the company also operates the primary DNS root server, it has a plausible smokescreen for shutting down competition under the guise of security and stability.

If that is what is happening, one could easily make the argument that it is abusing its position.

If, on the other hand, Verisign’s concerns are legitimate, ICANN would be foolhardy to ignore its advice.

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade has made it clear publicly, several times, that new gTLDs will not be delegated if there’s a good reason to believe they will destabilize the internet.

The chair of the SSAC has stated that the internal name problem is largely dealt with, at least as far as SSL certificates go.

The question now for ICANN — the organization and the community — is whether Verisign is talking nonsense or not.

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ICANN reveals 81 passes and one failure in latest new gTLD results batch

The weekly batch of new gTLD Initial Evaluation results has just been published, revealing 81 passes and one failure — the first failure that isn’t a dot-brand.

DOTPAY SA, a Swiss company, only scored 7 out of the necessary 8 points on its financial evaluation and is therefore now categorized as “Eligible for Extended Evaluation”.

That might be bad news for the other .pay applicant, Amazon, which will now have to wait some months for extended evaluation to take place before the contention set can be resolved.

DOTPAY’s .pay bid is the fourth application to fail Initial Evaluation.

The 81 passing applications this week are (links are to DI PRO):

.salon .music .loft .creditunion .careers .polo .vip .homedepot .mrporter .sarl .observer .dance .forsale .blue .game .market .fashion .tour .iwc .george .pink .fox .spiegel .reise kinder .hoteis .nike .arab .dev .diamonds .nico .cloud .law .tickets .photography .pay .channel .java .academy .nexus zippo .plus .enterprises .goog .apartments .supplies .gmbh .krd .fan .company .wow .spot .travelers .love .joburg .exchange .basketball .directory .art .today .money .kitchen .read .jot .vodka .icu .doha .hospital .chat .theguardian .jetzt .capital .natura .camp .protection .wow .gcc .pizza .supply .amex .wed .ott

There are now 514 passing applications. We’re up to 600 in the priority number queue.

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