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Black Ice suspended by ICANN

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2014, Domain Registrars

A small Israeli registrar has had its registrar accreditation suspended by ICANN.

Black Ice domains, which has a few thousand .com and .net domains under management, failed to comply with an ICANN audit and was overdue on its fees by over $5,000, according to the ICANN notice (pdf).

It won’t be allowed to sell gTLD domains or accept inbound transfers from December 19 to March 18, and may be terminated if it fails to come back into compliance.

The registrar is the fourth to have its accreditation suspended by ICANN in 2014. The organization has terminated a further seven registrars, down on the 11 terminated in the whole of 2013.

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Eleven domains suspended under .uk anti-rape rules

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2014, Domain Registries

Nominet has suspended and permanently blocked 11 “rape” domain names in .uk since introducing a controversial policy earlier this year.

The company today disclosed that nine pre-existing domains were suspended immediately following the introduction of the rules in May. Another two have been blocked since then.

The policy calls for Nominet to ban any domain name that seems to “promote or incite serious sexual offences”.

Examples of such domains given by Lord MacDonald, who compiled the review that led to the policy, included rapeme.co.uk, rapemyteacher.co.uk and rapeporn.co.uk.

Nominet now automatically scans all new .uk registrations for keywords that may be a cause for concern. These are then manually reviewed to weed out the false positives, which could include for example domains that contain the word “grape” or “therapist”.

The false positive level is very high. According to a Nominet report (pdf) this week, 1,029 domains have been automatically flagged since May, only two of which were then suspended.

The policy was introduced following articles in some of the UK’s right-wing tabloids and pressure from government ministers.

Nominet also disclosed this week that 948 domains have been suspended for “criminal activity” in the last six months.

Under Nominet rules, such domains are suspended merely upon notification by the law enforcement agencies that the domain in question is suspected of harboring criminal activity. Unlike elsewhere in the world, no court order is required.

“Criminal activity” means intellectual property infringement in the vast majority of cases.

Of those 948 suspended names, 839 were suspended after complaints from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. Another 102 were yanked following notices from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. The remaining 7 complaints came from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

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After lawsuit, YouPorn buys into .xxx portfolio

Kevin Murphy, December 8, 2014, Domain Registries

Porn site operator Manwin Licensing, known to the domain industry for its antitrust lawsuit against ICANN and ICM Registry that was settled last year, has taken over a portfolio of .xxx domains from a staunch .xxx supporter.

Now known as MindGeek, the YouPorn operator is to manage sites for Really Useful, one of the most enthusiastic buyers of premium .xxx domain names.

Really Useful was the first company to have a live .xxx web site — casting.xxx. It has also bought premiums such as orgasms.xxx, bdsm.xxx, mature.xxx, publicsex.xxx, czech.xxx, tubes.xxx, teen.xxx and mom.xxx directly from ICM.

Its spokesperson, “JT”, has expressed his support for .xxx in a few ICM press releases.

MindGeek is also taking over a selection of .com domains as part of the deal.

As Manwin, MindGeek sued ICANN and ICM in late 2011, alleging breaches of US antitrust law. It claimed the need for defensive registrations when .xxx launched amounted to “extortion”.

The suit was settled by ICM last year, but not before a California court ruled that ICANN is not immune to antitrust law.

Now, MindGeek seems to think .xxx domains are okay. Its director of global sales, “Nick P”, reportedly said: “JT’s content and brands are among the hottest on the Internet right now and the future sites planned are phenomenal.”

In unrelated news, MindGeek came under fire this week for producing a series of porn videos that allegedly depict the simulated rape of illegal immigrants by US border patrols.

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As another group rejects proposal, is NETmundial stillborn?

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2014, Domain Policy

The nascent NETmundial Initiative appears to be in dire straits already, just weeks into its existence, after another influential internet governance body decided against joining.

The Internet Architecture Board, which holds ultimate responsibility for the Request For Comment standards that help the internet remain interoperable, said yesterday that it will not join NetMundial, saying it is “not needed”.

The IAB’s rejection of the initiative follows that of the Internet Society, which said last month that the way NETmundial was being formed was not transparent, bottom-up or decentralized.

NETmundial is deliberately and self-consciously not related to domain names, which is why I’ve paid it scant attention recently, but I think it’s worth a mention because it is the brainchild in part of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and the subject of some discussion at ICANN meetings.

The idea behind the initiative is to create a policy body that can look at cross-border internet governance issues not already dealt with in fora such as ICANN or the IETF.

Chehade has been particularly enthusiastic about it as it could create a way to prevent special interests attempting to strong-arm ICANN, as the only “internet governance” entity out there with any real power, into making policies outside of its narrow remit.

The group was founded by ICANN, the government-linked Brazilian Internet Steering Committee and the World Economic Forum. Its name is borrowed from the NETmundial meeting, a policy talking shop that took place in Sao Paolo with the support of the Brazilian government this April.

But it’s come in for criticism for lacking true bottom-up organization.

The original plan was for a Coordinating Council to be created, comprising 20 people from four sectors and five geographic regions, to be selected by ICANN, the WEF and Brazil from a raft of self-nominated individuals.

There were to be another five permanent seats — three for the three organizers, one for the I* technical standards bodies and one for the Internet Governance Forum — but this was reportedly abandoned after ISOC expressed its disapproval of the plan.

Indeed, with the IGF also expressing misgivings about the Council’s make-up, there was the very real possibility of two of the five permanent seats sitting empty.

So far, just 10 days shy of the December 15 deadline, only 20 nominations have been received for the regular council. Four seats currently have no volunteers and four are contested by two people.

There hasn’t been much in the way of contributions to policy discussions either (though this is perhaps understandable for such a young initiative). So far, only two people have put forward ideas for discussion topics. On relates to brain-computer interfaces and the other to cyberbullying.

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Donuts wins five more new gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, December 3, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts added five new gTLDs to its ever-growing portfolio this week, as the results of five private auctions were revealed.

The company won the following strings:

.news — went to Donuts after withdrawals from Merchant Law Group, Amazon, Radix, Uniregistry, Famous Four Media and Primer Nivel. As somebody with a vested interest in the news media, I’m glad this one went to a registry with an open registration policy.

.golf — Donuts beat Famous Four, Dot Golf and Fegistry.

.casino — Donuts won after withdrawals from Famous Four, Afilias and dotBeauty.

.school — Donuts beat Fegistry, Uniregistry and Minds + Machines.

.football — Donuts beat Famous Four.

The registry currently has 156 delegated TLDs, more than half of those it originally applied for. It has another 99 active applications in various stages of pre-delegation.

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