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Governments get .xxx wish-list

National governments have been given the chance to block “words of cultural and/or religious significance” from the forthcoming .xxx top-level domain.

ICM Registry has told ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee that its members have until the end of July to provide lists of names they want banning from the .xxx namespace.

The GAC is due to meet during ICANN’s meeting in Singapore next Tuesday to discuss an “ICM Registry Request”, which is believed to be said block-list.

Approved strings would be marked as reserved and would resolve to a standard placeholder page. Unlike trademark holders, governments will not be required to pay a fee.

Strings in non-Latin alphabets will not yet be supported, according to ICM, but governments are allowed to submit them anyway, for future reference.

ICM will decide which strings make it to the list, but I can’t see it refusing reasonable requests — pissing off governments probably wouldn’t be a wise move given that some of them already plan to block the whole TLD at their national borders.

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Go Daddy lobbies to delay its IPO

Go Daddy is reportedly behind proposed US legislation that would make it easier for large privately-held companies to keep their financial records secret.

(UPDATE: This post sources a New York Post report, but according to a Go Daddy spokesperson, the company had “nothing to do with” the proposed legislation.)

If the new Private Company Flexibility and Growth Act becomes law, it would enable Go Daddy to avoid being compelled into an IPO.

The bill was introduced by Arizona’s Rep. David Schweikert and other bi-partisan Congressmen yesterday. In interviews, Schweikert talked of having the law pass by the end of the year.

Today, when private companies hit 500 shareholders they have to start publicly disclosing their accounts, by filing their financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This creates substantial costs, and in the past many companies (Google is an example) choose to go the IPO route instead, even if they don’t necessarily want to.

The new bill would allow them to stay private, in both senses of the word, for longer.

Schweikert told Fortune that the bill was inspired by “a bunch of little companies” in his Scottsdale constituency. The New York Post reported that Go Daddy was among them.

Go Daddy filed for an IPO in May 2006, but canceled the offering a few months later, citing poor market conditions and conflicts with CEO Bob Parsons’ management style.

In September last year, the company put itself up for sale, with a reported asking price of between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, but the auction was called off a few weeks later.

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Short .tel domains available tomorrow

Telnic has announced that two-letter and numeric-only .tel domain names will becomes available from tomorrow at 2pm UTC.

You’ll be able to register any two-letter .tel domain that has not already been claimed in a two-week landrush period, which ends today, with the exception of combinations that match ccTLDs.

Numeric-only and numeric/hyphen domains are restricted to seven characters and under, in order to avoid clashes with telephone numbers.

The release of numeric .tel domains was the subject of a minor controversy when Telnic first made the request to ICANN last year.

Telnic said pricing is expected to be the same as regular .tel registrations – usually about the same price as a .com domain name.

A list of participating registrars can be found here.

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M+M gets into bed with Neustar

Minds + Machines has committed to use Neustar’s registry services for some of its new top-level domain applications, the companies have announced.

M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings said in a press release that the companies:

will work together exclusively in respect of all geographic gTLDs pursued by TLDH, apart from a short list of those already in progress. TLDH will oversee sales, marketing, registrar relations, ICANN compliance and other management functions, while Neustar will provide back-end registry and DNS services.

The deal may cover applications including .bayern, .berlin, and .mumbai, judging from the press release.

M+M will continue to use Espresso, its version of the CoCCA registry platform, for non-geo TLDs.

Under ICANN rules, geographical TLDs will require the support of the respective governments.

Reading between the lines, it appears that demand for proven scale and financial stability may have been the primary driver for the deal.

Neustar manages .us and biz, among others, while M+M has a far shorter track record. Neustar has annual revenue of over half a billion dollars, compared to TLDH’s approximately $100,000.

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ICANN independence request denied

Kevin Murphy, June 11, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN’s request for greater independence has been rejected by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

In its new Further Notice Of Inquiry (pdf) investigation into the IANA contract, through which ICANN is granted its internet management responsibilities, the NTIA said:

NTIA reiterates that it is not in discussions with ICANN to transition the IANA functions nor does the agency intend to undertake such discussions.

Transitioning the IANA functions would have meant less power over the domain name system for the US government and more for ICANN.

Privatizing the DNS was one of the original goals when ICANN was set up in 1998 — it was meant to happen before Clinton left office — but the US government has been dead set against such a move since at least 2005.

The latest decision was expected. NTIA assistant secretary Lawrence Strickling had flagged up the agency’s position in a recent speech.

Nevertheless, it’s a blow to ICANN and its CEO, Rod Beckstrom, who since the San Francisco meeting in March has been pushing for the IANA contract to be re-framed into a longer-term “cooperative agreement” to better reflect ICANN’s international nature.

But the NTIA said this would not be possible:

NTIA does not have the legal authority to enter into a cooperative agreement with any organization, including ICANN, for the performance of the IANA functions.

To drive the point home, the FNOI also calls for the functional aspect of IANA – the updates it makes to the DNS root database – to be clearly separated from the policy-making side of ICANN.

On the bright side, ICANN can rest assured that the NTIA seems to have put aside thoughts of breaking up the IANA functions and distributing them between different entities.

This notion was put to bed primarily because the organizations most likely to take over roles such as protocol and IP number administration (such as the NRO and the IAB) did not seem to want them.

The FNOI also suggests a raft of process and technology requirements that ICANN’s IANA team will have to abide by after the contract is renewed.

The process for redelegating ccTLDs is currently an absolute bloody mess – utterly opaque and with no historical consistency with how decisions for transferring ownership of TLDs are made.

The ccNSO is working on this problem, but its policy development is likely to take a year or two.

In the meantime, the NTIA will mandate through the IANA contract at least one major nod to ccTLD redelegation reform, in the form of the “respect rule” I blogged about earlier.

Under the heading “Responsibility and Respect for Stakeholders”, the proposed IANA Statement of Work says: “the Contractor shall act in accordance with the relevant national laws of the jurisdiction which the TLD registry serves.”

This provision is already included in most of the agreements ICANN has signed with ccTLD registries and ICP-1, the policy that governs its redelegation processes.

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