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Eleven TLDs get removed from the DNS

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN will soon remove 11 experimental internationalized domain name TLDs from the domain name system.

The TLDs, which represent “.test” in nine scripts and 10 languages, were added to the root almost exactly six years ago in preparation for ICANN’s IDN ccTLDs program.

Now that the program is quite mature, with a few dozen IDN ccTLDs live on the internet with no major reported problems, ICANN has decided that the test TLDs are no longer required.

They will be removed from the DNS root zone on October 31, ICANN said.

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.pink and two other gTLDs get contracts

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has signed Registry Agreements this week with three new gTLD applicants, covering the strings .wed, .ruhr and .pink.

I would characterize these strings as a generic, a geographic and a post-generic.

regiodot GmbH wants to use .ruhr as a geographic for the Ruhr region of western Germany while Atgron wants to providing marrying couples with .wed for their wedding-related web sites.

Afilias’ .pink belongs to that unusual category of applied-for gTLDs that I’m becoming increasingly interested in: the non-SEO generic.

The vast majority of generic, open gTLDs that have been applied for (mostly by domainer-driven portfolio applicants) in the current round are essentially “keyword” strings — stuff that’s very likely going to prove useful in search engine optimization.

I’m talking here about stuff like .music, .video, .football and .porn. These may prove popular with small business web site owners and domainers.

But there’s another category of generic gTLDs I believe have little SEO value but offer a certain quirky-cool branding opportunity that may prove attractive to regular, non-commercial registrants.

I’d put strings such as .ninja, .bom, .wow, .hot, .love and .pink into this category.

I’m very curious to see how these kinds of strings fare over the next few years, as I suspect we may see many more such applications in future gTLD rounds.

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dotShabaka Diary — Day 15, Iran and Name Collisions

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2013, Domain Registries

The fifteenth installment of dotShabaka Registry’s journal, charting its progress towards becoming one of the first new gTLDs to go live, written by general manager Yasmin Omer.

Thursday 3 October 2013

At a time when ICANN has hit the ‘pause’ button on the new gTLD program in order to assess the impact of “name collisions” on the security and stability of the DNS, we were surprised to see the ICANN Board approve the delegation of ایران., the IDN ccTLD for the Islamic Republic of Iran. While we understand the many distinctions between a ccTLD and a gTLD, the DNS does not make any such distinction.

As we’ve heard from Paul Mockapetris and John Crain recently in their interviews posted on the ICANN website, name collisions (or, more accurately, NX Domain responses) is not a new phenomenon; they have been evident with the introduction of any TLD and with existing TLDs in the root. Experience has shown that steps have been taken to successfully resolve the issues. We understand that ICANN is concerned that the use of NX Domain responses has the potential to create confusion with the introduction of new TLDs into the DNS.

As a contracted party with ICANN, شبكة. (an IDN gTLD) is unable to be delegated as we wait the outcomes of ICANN’s deliberations on name collisions. We have paid our $185,000 application fee, we have undertaken a very resource intensive exercise to ensure a compliant application, we have passed Initial Evaluation, we have signed a registry agreement with ICANN, we have passed pre-delegation testing and yet we sit and wait.

Our understanding of the IDN ccTLD fast track process is that it is much less rigorous, the application fee is voluntary, there is no requirement to enter into a contract with ICANN, the TLD can develop a launch strategy that is not restricted by ICANN mandated rights protection mechanisms, and any contribution to ICANN’s budget is voluntary. But because this is a ccTLD and not a new gTLD, the Board has seen fit to approve this delegation request at this time despite the serious conversation going on in the community about name collisions.

As we said previously, the DNS does not distinguish between a ccTLD or a gTLD, or for that matter an IDN ccTLD or an IDN gTLD. We would appreciate an explanation as to why we sit and wait for delegation while the IDN ccTLD is approved.

Read previous and future diary entries here.

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Angry gTLD applicants lay into ANA and Verisign “bullshit”

Kevin Murphy, October 2, 2013, Domain Services

They’re as mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.

New gTLD applicants yesterday laid into the Association of National Advertisers and Verisign with gusto, accusing them of seeking to delay the program for commercial reasons using security as a smokescreen.

The second TLD Security Forum in Washington DC was marked by a heated public argument between applicants and their back-end providers and the ANA’s representatives at the event.

The question was, of course, name collisions: will new gTLDs cause unacceptable security risks — maybe even threatening life — when they are delegated?

ANA vice president Dan Jaffe and outside counsel Amy Mushahwar had walked into the lion’s den, to their credit, to put forth the view that enterprises may face catastrophic IT failures if new gTLDs show up in the in DNS root.

What they got instead was a predictably hostile audience and a barrage of criticism from event organizer Alex Stamos, CTO of .secure applicant Artemis Internet, and Neustar VP Jeff Neuman.

Stamos was evidently already having a Bad Day before the ANA showed up for the afternoon sessions.

During his morning presentation, he laid the blame for certain types of name collision risks squarely with the “dumb” enterprises that are configuring their internal name servers in insecure ways. He said:

Any company that is using any of these domains, they’re all screwing up. Anyone who’s admitting these collisions is making a mistake. It’s a bad mistake, it’s a common mistake, but that doesn’t make it right. They’re opening themselves up to possible horrible security flaws that have nothing to do with the new gTLD program.

There is a mechanism by which you can split DNS resolution in a secure manner on Windows. But unless you do that, you’re in trouble, you’re creating a security hole for yourself. So stop complaining and delaying the whole new gTLD program, because you’re dumb, honestly. These are people who are going to have a problem whether new gTLDs exist or not. Let’s be realistic about this: it’s not about security, it’s about other commercial interests.

That’s of course a reference to Verisign, which is suspected of pressing the name collisions issue in order to prevent or delay competition to .com, and the ANA, which tried to get the program delayed on trademark grounds before it discovered collisions earlier this year.

Executives from Verisign, which put the ANA onto the name collision scent in the first place, apparently lacked the cojones to show up and defend the company’s position in person.

Stamos was preaching mainly to the choir at this point. The fireworks didn’t start until Jaffe and Mushahwar arrived for their panel a few hours later.

The ANA’s point of view, which they both made pretty clearly, is that there seems to be a risk that things could go badly wrong for enterprises if they’re running internal names that clash with applied-for gTLDs.

They’ve got beef with ICANN for running a “not long enough” comment period on the topic primarily during the vacation month of August, which didn’t give big companies enough time to figure out whether they’re at risk and obtain the necessary sign-off on disclosing this fact.

In short, the ANA wants more time — many more months — for its members and others to look at the issue before new gTLDs are delegated.

Mushahwar dismissed the argument that the event-free launches of .asia, .xxx and others showed that gTLD delegations don’t cause any problems, saying:

Let me admit right now: DNS collision is not new, it’s been around since the beginning of the internet… what is new is the velocity of change expected within the next year to 18 months.

I really dismiss the arguments that people are making on the public record saying we’ve dealt with this issue before, we’ve dealt with these issues, view the past TLDs as your test runs. We have never had this velocity of change happening.

The ANA seems to believe that the risk and the consequences are substantial, talking about people dying because their voice over IP fails or electricity supply gets cut off.

But other speakers weren’t buying it.

Stamos was first to the mic to challenge Mushahwar and Jaffe, saying their concerns are “mostly about IP and other commercial interests”, rather than sound technical analysis.

He pointed to letters sent to ICANN’s comment periods in support of the ANA’s position that were largely signed by IP lawyers. Security guys at these companies were not even aware of the letters, he said.

The internet is this crazy messy place where all kinds of weird things happen… if this is the mode that the internet goes forward — you have to prove everything you do has absolutely no risk of impacting anyone connected to the internet — then that’s it, we might as well call it done. We might as well freeze the internet as it is right now.

If you want to stall the program because you have a problem with IP rights or whatever I think that’s fine, but don’t try to grab hold of this thing and blow it up under a microscope and say “needs more study, needs more study”. For anything we do on the internet we can make that argument.

Any call for “we need to study every single possible impact for all several billion devices connected to the internet” is honestly kinda bullshit… it really smacks to me of lawyers coming in and telling engineers how to do their job.

Mushahwar pointed out in response that she’s a “security attorney, not an IP attorney” and that her primary concern is business continuity for large business, not trademark protection.

A few minutes later Neustar’s Neuman was equally passionate at the mic, clashing with Mushahwar more than once.

It all got a bit Fox News, with frequent crosstalk and “if you’d let me continue” and “I’ll let you finish” raising tempers. Neuman at one point accused Mushahwar of “condescending to the entire audience”.

His position, like Stamos before him, was that new gTLD applicants have looked at the same data as Interisle Consulting in its original report, and found that with the exception of .home, .corp and .mail, the risks posed by new gTLDs are minor and can be easily mitigated.

He asked the ANA to present some concrete examples of things that could go wrong.

“You guys have come to the table with a bunch of rhetoric, not supported by facts,” Neuman said.

He pointed to Neustar’s own research into the name collisions, which used the same data (more or less) as Interisle and Verisign and concluded that the risk of damaging effects is low.

The two sides of the debate were never going to come to any agreements yesterday, and they didn’t. But in many respects the ANA and applicants are on the same page.

Stamos, Neuman and others demanded examples of real-world problems that will be encountered when specific gTLDs are delegated and the ANA said basically: “Sure, but we need more time to do that”.

But more time means more delay, of course, which isn’t what the domain name industry wants to hear.


Still no closure on GAC new gTLD advice

Kevin Murphy, October 2, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN board members met again to discuss the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice on new gTLDs at the weekend and, again, made baby steps towards addressing it.

The main update in a just-published New gTLD Program Committee resolution is that dozens of previously frozen applications for “closed generic” gTLDs have been thawed.

These applicants will be able to proceed to contracting with ICANN, as long as they agree to sign a version of the Registry Agreement that prohibits use of the string as a closed generic.

Closed generics haven’t been killed off, but anyone still planning to operate one is still in GAC limbo.

The NGPC said in its latest scorecard (pdf):

ICANN has received communications from many of the applicants for strings mentioned in this advice, stating that they are prepared enter the Registry Agreement as approved by the NGPC, which prohibits exclusive registry access for generic strings. Since moving forward with these applicants is consistent with the GAC advice, the NGPC directs staff to move forward with the contracting process for applicants for strings identified in the Category 2 Safeguard Advice that are prepared to enter into the Registry Agreement as approved.

The hundreds of “Category 1” strings — those, such as .law, .health and .games, that the GAC believes need extra regulation before being approved — are still on hold.

The NGPC said: “The NGPC is working on an implementation plan for the advice and will inform the GAC of the details upon approval by the NGPC.”

Does that mean ICANN will be accepting the advice? Right now, that’s not clear.

There was no movement on Amazon’s application for .amazon and transliterations, which were put on hold following the GAC’s advice at the Durban meeting in July.

Amazon submitted a lengthy argument challenging the legal basis of the GAC’s advice, which the NGPC is still mulling over.