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Verisign probes name collisions link to MH370

Kevin Murphy, April 1, 2014, Gossip

Verisign is investigating whether Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing due to a DNS name collision.

The Boeing 777 disappeared on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, March 8. Despite extensive international searches of the Indian Ocean and beyond, no trace of the plane has yet been found.

Now Verisign is pondering aloud whether a new gTLD might be to blame.

The theory emerged during Verisign’s conference in London two weeks ago, at which the company offered a $50,000 prize to the researcher with the best suggestion about how to keep the collisions debate alive.

Chief propaganda officer Burt Kaslinksiki told DI that the decision to launch the investigation today was prompted by a continuing lack of serious interest in name collisions outside of Verisign HQ.

“We cannot discount the possibility that the plane went missing due to a new gTLD,” he said. “Probably something to do with .aero or .travel or something. That sounds plausible, right?”

“The .aero gTLD was delegated in 2001,” he said after a few minutes thought. “Is it any coincidence that just 13 years later MH370 should go missing? We intend to investigate a possible link.”

“Think about it,” Koslikiniski said. “When was the last time you saw a .aero domain? The entire gTLD has vanished without a trace.”

He pointed to a slide from a prize-winning Powerpoint presentation made at the London conference as evidence:

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“We’re not saying new gTLDs cause planes to smash into the ocean and disappear without a trace, we’re just saying that it’s not not un-impossible that such a thing might conceivably, feasibly happen,” he said.

He added that it was also possible that name collisions were to blame that time Justin Bieber got photographed pissing in a bucket.

Verisign is proposing that ICANN add “modest” new registration restrictions to all new gTLDs as a precaution until the company’s investigation is concluded, which is expected to take four to six years.

Specifically, new gTLD registries would be banned from accepting any registrations for:

  • Any domain name comprising a dictionary word, or a combination of dictionary words, in any UN language.
  • Any domain name shorter than 60 characters.
  • Any domain name containing fewer than six hyphens.
  • Any domain name in which the second level is written in the same script as the TLD.
  • Anything not written in Windings.

Kalenskiskiski denied that these restrictions would unreasonably interfere with competing gTLDs’ business prospects.

“Nobody seemed to care when we managed to get 10 million domains blocked based on speculation and fearmongering,” he said. “We’re fairly confident we can get away with this too.”

“If ICANN puts up a fight, we’ll just turn The Chulk loose on ’em again to remind them who pays their fucking salaries,” he explained.

“In the rare instances where these very reasonable restrictions might prevent somebody from registering the new gTLD name they want, there’s still plenty of room left in .com,” he added.

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Donuts buys out rival .place gTLD applicant

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts has won the .place new gTLD contention set after paying off rival applicant 1589757 Alberta Ltd.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was another “cut and choose” affair, similar to deals made with Tucows last August, in which the Canadian company named its price to withdraw and Donuts chose to pay it rather than taking the money itself.

1589757 Alberta has withdrawn its application for .place already.

The deal means Donuts now has 165 new gTLDs that are either live, contracted or uncontested.

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ARI and Radix split on all new gTLD bids

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix no longer plans to use ARI Registry Services for any of its new gTLDs, I’ve learned.

The company has already publicly revealed that CentralNic is to be its back-end registry services provider for .space, .host, .website and .press, but multiple reliable sources say the deal extends to its other 23 applications too.

I gather that the split with ARI wasn’t entirely amicable and had money at its root, but I’m a bit fuzzy on the specifics.

The four announced switches are the only four currently uncontested strings Radix has applied for.

Of Radix’s remaining active applications, the company has only so far submitted a change request to ICANN — which I gather is a very expensive process — on one, .online.

For the other 22, ARI is still listed as the back-end provider in the applications, which have all passed evaluation.

Radix is presumably waiting until after its contention sets get settled before it goes to the expense of submitting change requests.

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No sunrise periods for dot-brands

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN has finally signed off on a set of exemptions that would allow dot-brand gTLDs to skip sunrise periods and, probably, work only with hand-picked registrars.

Its board’s New gTLD Program Committee passed a resolution at ICANN 49 last week that would add a new Specification 13 (pdf) to Registry Agreements signed by dot-brands.

The new spec removes the obligation operate a sunrise period, which is unnecessary for a gTLD that will only have a single registrant. It also lets dot-brands opt out of treating all registrars equally.

Dot-brands would still have to integrate with the Trademark Clearinghouse and would still have to operate Trademark Claims periods — if a dot-brand registers a competitor’s name in its own gTLD during the first 90 days post-launch, the competitor will find out about it.

ICANN is also proposing to add another clause to Spec 13 related to registrar exclusivity, but has decided to delay the addition for 45 days while it gets advice from the GNSO on whether it’s consistent with policy.

That clause states that the dot-brand registry may choose to “designate no more than three ICANN accredited registrars at any point in time to serve as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD.”

This is to avoid the silly situation where a dot-brand is obliged to integrate with registrars from which it has no intention of buying any domain names.

Spec 13 also provides for a two-year cooling off period after a dot-brand ceases operations, during which ICANN will not delegate the same string to another registry unless there’s a public interest need to do so.

The specification contains lots of language designed to prevent a registry gaming the system to pass off a generic string as a brand.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to pass off a trademark alone, without a business to back it up, as a brand. Neither is there a way to pass off a descriptive generic term as a brand.

The rules seem to allow Apple to have .apple as a dot-brand, because Apple doesn’t sell apples, but would not allow a trousers company to have .trousers as a dot-brand.

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ICANN muddles through solution to IGO conflict

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN may have come up with a way to appease both the GNSO and the GAC, which are at conflict over the best way to protect the names and/or acronyms of intergovernmental organizations.

At the public forum of the ICANN 49 meeting in Singapore last Thursday, director Bruce Tonkin told the community that the ICANN board will consider the GNSO’s recommendations piecemeal instead of altogether.

It will also convene a meeting of the GNSO, GAC, IGOs, international nongovernmental organizations and the At-Large Advisory Committee to help reach a consensus.

The issue, you may recall from a DI post last week, is whether the names and acronyms of IGOs and INGOs should be blocked in all new gTLDs.

The GNSO is happy for the names to be protected, but draws the line at protecting acronyms, many of which are dictionary words or have multiple uses. The GAC wants protection for both.

Both organizations have gone through their respective processes to come to full consensus policy advice.

This left ICANN in the tricky situation of having to reject advice from one or the other; its bylaws did not make a compromise easy.

By splitting the GNSO’s 20 or so recommendations up and considering them individually, the ICANN board may be able to reconcile some with the GAC advice.

It would also be able to reject bits of GAC advice, specific GNSO recommendations, or both. Because the advice conflicts directly in some cases, rejection of something seems probable.

But ICANN might not have to reject anything, if the GAC, GNSO and others can come to an agreement during the special talks ICANN has in mind, which could happen as soon as the London meeting in June.

Even if those talks lead to nothing, this proposed solution does seem to be good news for ICANN perception-wise; it won’t have to blanket-reject either GNSO or GAC policy advice.

This piecemeal or ‘scorecard’ approach to dealing with advice hasn’t been used with GNSO recommendations before, but it is how the board has dealt with complex GAC advice for the last few years.

It’s also been used with input from non-GNSO bodies such as the Whois Review Team and Accountability and Transparency Review Team.

Judging by a small number of comments made by GNSO members at the public forum on Thursday, the solution the board has proposed seems to be acceptable.

ICANN may have dodged a bullet here.

The slides used by Tonkin during the meeting can be found here.

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