Almost half of accredited domain name registrars were found “deficient” during a recent ICANN compliance survey.
Results of an audit published today show that 146 of 322 registrars (45%) picked at random for the September 2013 to May 2014 study had to carry out some form of remediation in order to comply with their contracts.
The report comes at the end of the second year of ICANN’s audit program, which aims to bring all accredited registrars and gTLD registries into compliance over three years.
The deficiencies noted at 146 registrars cover areas ranging from compliance with ICANN consensus policies to the availability of Whois services over the web and port 43.
In almost every instance the numbers were down on last year.
For example, ICANN documented 86 registrars who could not initially show compliance with requirements on the retention of registrant data, down from 105 a year ago.
Only 15 registrars of the 322 (4.6%) flunked the audit and will be re-tested. The others were all able to bring their systems into line with ICANN’s requirements during the course of the audit.
Three registrars were terminated as a result of deficiencies identified during this phase of the program.
The full report, along with the list of participating registrars, can be found here.
In a decision that seems to have come out of nowhere, ICANN has effectively put bids for three porn-themed new gTLDs on hold.
In a June 21 meeting, the board’s New gTLD Program Committee discussed .adult, .sex and .porn, calling them “sensitive strings”.
While it passed no resolution, I understand that ICANN legal staff is delaying the signing of contracts for at least one of these gTLDs while the NGPC carries out its talks.
It’s a surprising development, given that the three strings are not subject to any Governmental Advisory Committee advice, are not “Community” applications, and have not been formally objected to by anyone.
The report from the NGPC meeting acknowledges the lack of a GAC basis for giving the strings special treatment (emphasis added):
The Committee engaged in a discussion concerning applications for several adult-oriented strings in the current round of the New gTLD Program, including .ADULT, .PORN, and .SEX. The applications propose to serve the same sector as the .XXX sponsored TLD. Staff noted that the applications were not the subject of GAC advice, or any special safeguards, other the safeguards that are applicable to all new gTLDs. The Committee considered how the safeguards in the new gTLD Program compare to the safeguards that were included in the .XXX Registry Agreement. The Committee requested staff prepare additional briefing materials, and agreed to discuss the matter further at a subsequent meeting.
This begs the question: why is ICANN giving .porn et al special treatment?
What’s the basis for suggesting that these three strings should be subject to the same safeguards that were applied to .xxx, which was approved under the 2003 sponsored gTLD round?
.porn, .sex and .adult were were applied for under the 2012 new gTLD program, which has an expectation of predictability and uniformity of treatment as one of its founding principles.
Who decided that .sex is “sensitive” while .sexy is not? On what basis?
Is it because, as the NGPC report suggests, that the three proposed gTLDs “serve the same sector” as .xxx?
That wouldn’t make any sense either.
Doesn’t .vacations, a contracted 2012-round gTLD, serve the same sector as .travel, a 2003-round sponsored gTLD? Why wasn’t .vacations subject to additional oversight?
Is it rather the case that the NGPC is concerned that ICM Registry, operator of .xxx, has applied for these three porn strings and proposes to grandfather existing .xxx registrants?
That also wouldn’t make any sense.
.sex has also been applied for by Internet Marketing Solutions, a company with no connection to .xxx or to the 2003 sponsored gTLD round. Why should this company’s application be subject to additional oversight?
And why didn’t .career, which “serves the same sector” as the sponsored-round gTLD .jobs and was applied for by the same guys who run .jobs, get this additional scrutiny before it signed its contract?
It all looks worryingly arbitrary to me.
Groups representing thousands of US winemakers have come out against .wine and .vin, bringing their government’s position on the two proposed new gTLDs into question.
Seven regional associations, representing close to 2,000 wineries, issued a statement last night raising “strong objections” to the gTLDs with “non-existent to grossly insufficient safeguards”.
The joint statement says:
If granted to unscrupulous bidders, second-level domain names such as napavalley.wine or wallawalla.wine could be held in perpetuity by a company or individual that has never seen a vineyard, cultivated fine wine grapes or made a single bottle of wine.
It’s the first mass objection from US winemakers, but they join colleagues from France, Spain and other European Union nations in their opposition to a .wine that does not respect geographic indicators (GIs).
It also makes the US delegation to ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee look rather out of touch with the very companies it professes to be looking out for.
At the ICANN 50 meeting in London last week, US rep Suzanne Radell told the GAC:
The three U.S. wineries that our colleagues in Europe have cited as being privy to the exchanges between the European wine industries and the applicants are, in fact, just three U.S. wineries. If I may emphasize, the United States has thousands and thousands of wineries who are quite interested in this matter and do not support the European model of GI protection. So let’s just please put that to bed.
The US winery groups now objecting comprise almost 2,000 wineries. According to Wikipedia, the US has fewer than 3,000 wineries.
We’re looking at a two-thirds majority objection from the US wine-making industry here.
“The coalition of American quality wine regions representing nearly 2,000 U.S. wineries clearly contradicts Radell’s testimony in London on June 22,” the groups said.
The groups also have Californian congresspeople Anna Eshoo and Mike Thompson on their side. As we reported yesterday, Eshoo has already written to ICANN to urge it to kill off .wine.
The big questions are: will this be enough to change the position the US takes to the GAC in future, and will that help the GAC find consensus on anti-.wine advice?
Australia and Canada have also been vocal opponents of the European demands in the past. They’d need to change their minds too, in order for the GAC to find a new consensus.
Without a GAC consensus, the .wine and .vin applicants have little to worry about.
US Representative Anna Eshoo has written to ICANN’s top brass to express “deep concerns” about the .wine and .vin new gTLDs and urge that they be permanently killed off.
In a letter (pdf) to CEO Fadi Chehade, Eshoo wrote:
it’s my understanding that the .wine and .vin gTLDs have been met with fierce opposition from the wine industry, both here in the US and around the world. Given these concerns, coupled with the complexities of reaching agreement on Geographic Indications (GIs), I urge you to advocate for the .wine and .vin gTLDs to be permanently withdrawn from consideration.
Eshoo, a Democrat, is breaking rank with the official position of the Obama administration on this, which is that no special treatment is warranted for the two wine-related gTLDs.
Europe, on the other hand, is vehemently opposed to the introduction of either without strong protection for GIs.
At ICANN 50 in London last week the European Commission and France led the charge against approval of the gTLDs, with the Commission even floating the idea of legal action at one point.
France, meanwhile, seems ready to throw ICANN’s ambitions for independence under a bus in order to get what it wants.
Eshoo is ranking member of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which recently passed the DOT-COM Act over her protestations that it was “embarrassing”.
She also represents the Silicon Valley area of northern California, which is known for its wineries.
While a handful of US winemakers do have a decidedly European attitude to GI protections, the US Governmental Advisory Committee delegation last week said that only a few out of “thousands” agree with France.
Two months into its combined sunrise/landrush period Dot London Domains estimates it will end July with 50,000 applied-for names.
A “projection based on current applications”, the number doesn’t say a heck of a lot about how many names have actually been applied for since the TLD opened for applications on April 29.
It could mean that 33,000 names, given that we’re two-thirds of the way through the launch phase. Alternatively, the registry could be predicting the kind of last-minute rush common to sunrise periods before 2014.
The number doesn’t say much about .london’s eventual number of names under management, given that there’s likely to be multiple applications for the same names.
If it were to sell 50,000 names, that would make it the fifth-largest new gTLD, based on today’s numbers.
The three-month launch phase combines the sunrise and landrush, with trademark owners listed in the Trademark Clearinghouse getting first priority.
Registrants based in London applying for a non-TMCH business name get second dibs, followed by Londoners generally and then anyone anywhere in the world.
Clashing applications will see the names going to auction. Sunrise applicants will not have to compete at auction with non-sunrise applicants, of course.
Back-end registry provider Minds + Machines is being promoted heavily as the primary registrar. It’s selling the names for £30 ($51) per year and pushing sunrise applicants to Com Laude.
1&1, 123-reg, GoDaddy, Fasthosts and CentralNic, which all have dedicated .london pages or sites, are also being promoted by M+M as partner registrars.
The cheapest deal of those registrars appears to be at FastHosts, which is selling at £24.99 ($42.85).