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American government kills off .kids.us

The US government is killing off the failed .kids.us domain, ten years after it was created by Congress.

The decision was explained in a statement posted on www.kids.us:

As a result of the changed landscape of the Internet and the many other tools that parents now have available to them to protect their children’s online experience, effective July 27, 2012, the Department of Commerce suspended the kids.us

An accompanying document (pdf) from Commerce says that .us registry operator Neustar should stop accepting new registrations and ask registrants to suspend their sites.

All .kids.us domains will be removed from the .us zone by June 27, 2013.

The .kids.us space was created by the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 and essentially forced on Neustar as a means for some politicians to get some family-friendly fluff on their voting records.

It’s been considered an abject failure ever since, largely due to its strict content regulations and a lack of marketing.

From the Google results and the old .kids.us directory, I’d estimate the number of registrations at fewer than 100.

In the new gTLD program there are two applicants for .kids — Amazon and DotKids Foundation. There’s also an applicant for .kid and an applicant for the Russian “.children”.

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Vignes out as CEO of OpenRegistry

OpenRegistry’s founding CEO, Jean-Christophe Vignes, left the position to join a Paris-based law firm last month.

He’s now senior counsel for the domain name practice at Caprioli & Associés.

Vignes said the change of jobs came as part of his family’s move to Paris and that he’s still a member of the OpenRegistry board of directors.

OpenRegistry (also known as Sensirius), which was selected as the back-end registry provider for 21 gTLD applications including .deloitte, .kpn and .schwarz, is based in Belgium.

It is believed that Hans Seeuws, Vignes’ former second in command, is now in charge at OpenRegistry.

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.radio applicant slams GAC “conflict of interest”

Kevin Murphy, July 11, 2012, Domain Policy

BRS Media, one of the four applicants for the .radio generic top-level domain, claims ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has a “direct conflict of interest” over the gTLD.

As DI reported two weeks ago, the European Broadcasting Union, another .radio applicant (the others are Afilias and Donuts), joined the GAC during ICANN’s public meeting in Prague.

While the EBU only has Observer status, and may not vote, it’s still able to participate in discussions. Whether these include discussions about GAC objections to new gTLDs is unclear.

BRS Media, which already runs the radio-themed .fm and .am ccTLDs, is not taking any chances, however. In a letter to GAC chair Heather Dryden, company CEO George Bundy wrote (pdf):

We believe these activities to be a direct Conflict of Interest, by the European Broadcasting Union within the New TLD Application process.

Optimistically, to say the least, BRS requests that the EBU “recuse itself from the New TLD process by withdrawing its applications immediately”.

While I can’t see that happening, it seems to me that the GAC does have to formally address the conflicts issue if it wants to avoid looking like a bunch of hypocrites.

The GAC does not appear to have a formal conflicts of interest policy, even though it pushed hard for similar provisions in the ICANN board.

Now that it has its hard-fought veto rights over new gTLD applications, some sort of safeguards seem appropriate.

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Christian group opposes .sex, .porn, .adult

Morality In Media, one of the groups that fought the approval of .xxx for years, has launched a letter-writing campaign against the proposed .sex, .porn and .adult top-level domains.

ICANN has received a couple dozen comments of objection to the three gTLDs over the last couple of days, apparently due to this call-to-arms.

Expect more. MIM was one of the main religion-based objectors to .xxx, responsible for crapflooding ICANN with thousands of comments in the years before the gTLD was approved.

Now that .xxx has turned out to be less successful than ICM Registry hoped, MIM feels its key belief on the subject — that porn gTLDs lead to more porn — has been vindicated.

MIM president Patrick Trueman wrote in one of his comments:

During the years of this fight against the .xxx domain, we said many times that the establishment of a .xxx domain would increase, not decrease the spread of pornography on the Internet, causing even more harm to children, families and communities, and make ICANN complicit in that harm.

That prediction has been fulfilled because the porn sites on the .com domain have not vacated the .com and moved to .xxx. Rather, as we have seen, the .xxx has just added thousand of additional porn sites on the Internet and .com porn sites stayed put. ICANN bears responsibility for this. The .xxx was not needed.

For some reason, the complaints are only leveled at the three ICM Registry subsidiaries that are applying for porn-themed gTLDs, and not the other .sex applicant.

Uniregistry’s application for .sexy has not been targeted.

And MIM has apparently not read the applications it is complaining about; its call to action complains about non-porn companies having to pay “protection money” to defensively register in .sex.

However, the three ICM bids explicitly contemplate an extensive grandfathering program under which all current defensive registrations in .xxx would be reserved in .sex, .porn and .adult.

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WIPO supported Draconian cybersquatting reform

Kevin Murphy, July 9, 2012, Domain Policy

Domain name owners who do not respond to cybersquatting complaints could automatically have their domains suspended, if the World Intellectual Property Organization gets its way.

That’s according to the latest ICANN documents to be released under its Documentary Information Disclosure Policy, following a request from the Internet Commerce Association.

The documents relate to the still controversial Uniform Rapid Suspension policy, a supplement to the existing UDRP for dealing with “clear cut” cases of cybersquatting.

The URS will be binding on all new gTLDs, but ICANN recently admitted that it’s been unable to find an organization willing to administer URS cases for the planned $300 to $500 filing fee.

Rather than implement URS with a $1,000 to $1,500 fee instead, ICANN plans to host two community summits to try to figure out ways to rearchitect the scheme to make it cheaper.

These changes could well mean fewer safeguards for domain registrants.

According to an email from WIPO released in response to ICA’s DIDP request, WIPO declined to host these summits unless ICANN agreed, in advance, to Draconian rules on default.

WIPO’s Erik Wilbers wrote (pdf):

it would seem unlikely that these stakeholders would now feel able to commit to the rather fundamental changes we believe to be in everyone’s interest – notably a shift to the proposed respondent-default basis without panel, subject to appropriate safeguards. We would consider an express prior commitment to such a shift, including the requisite Board support, as a pre-condition to a fruitful meeting on the URS.

In other words, WIPO thinks domain names should be suspended without expert review if the domain owner does not respond to a trademark owner’s URS complaint.

ICA counsel Phil Corwin is naturally not happy about this, writing in a blog post this weekend:

WIPO would only consent to hosting URS Summits if their result was largely pre-ordained – in which event, we ask, why bother holding the Summits at all? … This imperious demand should be dismissed out of hand by members of ICANN’s Board should it ever reach them.

That the structure of URS is still open for debate at this late stage of the game is an embarrassment, particularly given the fact that it’s been well-understood for some time that URS was unrealistically priced.

The new DIDP documents reveal that even the idea of summits to resolve the apparently intractable problems were a Band-Aid proposed almost accidentally by ICANN staff.

ICANN, it seems, is engaged in policy fire-fighting as usual.

The current hope is for URS to be finalized and a provider be in place by June 2013. It’s a plausible timetable, but I’m less convinced that a system can be created that is fair, useful and cheap.

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