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Bulgaria to file ICANN reconsideration appeal over rejected IDN ccTLD

Bulgaria is to appeal ICANN’s rejection of .бг, the Cyrillic version of its existing country code top-level domain, .bg.

Technology minister Alexander Tsvetkov said that the Bulgarian government will file a reconsideration request with ICANN, according to a DarikNews.bg interview.

The requested IDN ccTLD .бг was rejected because it looks quite a bit like Brazil’s existing ASCII ccTLD, .br, which could create confusion for Brazilians.

ICANN/IANA does not talk openly about ccTLD delegation issues. As far as I know, .бг is the only IDN ccTLD on the current fast-track program to be rejected on string-similarity grounds.

The Darik News interview, via Google Translate, reports Tsvetkov saying he “believes that this domain is the best way for Bulgaria” and that the government “will ask for reconsideration”.

Asked about the clash with Brazil, he said Bulgaria “will not quit” in its pursuit of its first-choice ccTLD.

Brazil has not been silent on the issue.

During the meeting on Tuesday between the ICANN board and its Governmental Advisory Committee, Brazil’s representative praised ICANN for rejecting .бг:

Brazil would like to express its support to the recent board’s decision about avoiding graphic similitude between new country codes and current country codes in Latin. This is particularly important inasmuch as any graphic confusion might facilitate phishing practices and all the problems related to it.

Many thanks to the Bulgarian reader who referred me to this Darik News interview.

For any other Bulgarians reading this, the interview also appears to contain lots of other really juicy information not related to domain names. Check it out.

Kredit.com sells for a fraction of Kredit.de

Kevin Murphy, June 15, 2010, Domain Sales

Kredit.com, which means “credit.com” in German, has been sold via Sedo for a fraction of the price that Kredit.de sold for about 18 months ago.

Sedo reported today that the domain changed hands recently for €220,000, which works out to $271,000 at today’s exchange rates.

For comparison, the German ccTLD equivalent, kredit.de, went for €892,500 in December 2008, also via Sedo. At the time, that amount translated to $1.25 million.

A generic ccTLD selling for roughly 5x the .com is a fairly uncommon occurrence, perhaps demonstrating how strong the .de namespace is locally. I can’t imagine such a wide discrepancy in valuations between a generic .com and .co.uk.

Kredit.com was originally registered in 1996. It’s currently parked, with an Irish address listed in the Whois.

ICANN’s Sword algorithm fails Bulgarian IDN test

ICANN has released version 4 of its new TLD Draft Applicant Guidebook (more on that later) and it still contains references to the controversial “Sword” algorithm.

As I’ve previously reported, this algorithm is designed to compare two strings for visual similarity to help prevent potentially confusing new TLDs being added to the root.

The DAG v4 contains the new text:

The algorithm supports the common characters in Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Greek, Japanese, Korean, and Latin scripts. It can also compare strings in different scripts to each other.

So I thought I’d check how highly the internationalized domain name .бг, the Cyrillic version of Bulgaria’s .bg ccTLD, scores.

As you may recall, .бг was rejected by ICANN two weeks ago due to its visual similarity to .br, Brazil’s ccTLD. As far as I know, it’s the only TLD to date that has been rejected on these grounds.

Plugging “бг” into Sword returns 24 strings that score over 30 out of 100 for similarity. Some, such as “bf” and “bt”, score over 70.

Brazil’s .br is not one of them.

Using the tool to compare “бг” directly to “br” returns a score of 26. That’s a lower score than strings such as “biz” and “org”.

I should note that the Sword web page is ambiguous about whether it is capable of comparing Cyrillic strings to Latin strings, but the new language in the DAG certainly suggests that it is.

E.co up for charity auction at Sedo

Kevin Murphy, May 26, 2010, Domain Sales

Sedo is to host a charity auction for the domain name e.co, under a deal with .CO Internet, manager of the newly relaunched Colombian ccTLD.

The auction will run from June 7 to June 10, with the final hour hosted live at the Internet Week show in New York, simultaneously webcast to the Internet Retailer and TRAFFIC conferences.

The winner of the auction gets to choose which charity the sale price is donated to.

Juan Diego Calle, CEO of the registry, said e.co is “perhaps the shortest, most memorable digital brand in the world”, which is hard to argue with.

You’ve got to hand it to .CO Internet, and to its PR outfit BM, they’re doing a hell of a job keeping the pre-launch .co buzz going. New TLD applicants take note.

Could we see seven figures? It seems quite possible.

Let’s hope the winning bidder throws the money at a worthy cause and doesn’t blow it on a donkey sanctuary or something.

ICANN says no to Bulgarian ccTLD

Bulgaria can not have a localized-script version of its country-code domain .bg, because it looks too much like Brazil’s current ccTLD.

Bulgarian business daily Dnevnik is reporting that ICANN has turned down Bulgaria’s request for .бг, the Cyrillic translation of .bg, because it looks very much like .br.

Part of ICANN’s internationalized domain name fast-track process checks whether applied-for strings could be visually confusing. Clearly, this is one of them.

Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have already passed the test and have active IDN ccTLDs.

The Bulgarians are not giving up, however. Dnevnik reports that the country will most likely apply for .бгр instead.

German domains see severe downtime

Many domains ending in .de, Germany’s country-code TLD, have seen downtime today, after something went wrong at Denic, the registry manager.

Details are sketchy at the moment, but it appears from chatter on the DNS-Ops mailing list that several instances of the .de zone stopped serving addresses this morning.

It appears that the affected servers were responsible for .de domains beginning with F through Z, so facebook.de would have worked, but heise.de would not.

The German slice of Twitter has been going a bit nuts with comments, and the German press is already on the case.

This is obviously a huge headache if you’re German or do business in Germany — I hate to think how many transactions could have been disrupted by the downtime — and I expect Denic will take a lot of flack at home over the coming days and weeks.

The problem, however, does appear to have been fixed. SANS estimates the outage as a little over an hour.

ICANN accused of Twitter faux pas over Arabic domains

The registry behind one of the new Arabic-script ccTLDs has sharply criticised ICANN for the way it introduced internationalized domain names to the root this week.

Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry, accused ICANN, specifically those responsible for the IANA function, of “embarrassing incompetency” and cultural insensitivity.

Kinderis’ beef is that IANA added the three new Arabic IDNs to the root without giving their local managers so much as a headsup.

AusRegistry is the back-end provider for امارات. the United Arab Emirates’ new IDN ccTLD, as well as its ASCII original.

“I was alarmed to discover that the relevant ccTLD Managers were only notified many hours after the fact, long after the same IANA staff member had broadcast the news on a personal Twitter account,” he blogged.

While Kinderis was diplomatic enough not to name names, he’s talking about IANA registry manager Kim Davies, who broke the web-changing news on Wednesday with a tweet.

“This was an inappropriate manner in which to announce an event of this importance,” Kinderis wrote. “It displays a disturbing lack of understanding and a complete disregard of the cultural and political significance of this event within the Arabic world.”

He goes on to point out that the announcement was made during Saudi Arabia’s weekend, leaving ccTLD managers scrambling to get their marketing in place on their day off.

I could keep quoting. It’s a fairly extraordinary attack on aspects of ICANN’s culture. Go have a read.

The internet is polyglot as full IDNs go live

Click this: http://وزارة-الأتصالات.مصر/

It’s the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, owner of one of the world’s first fully non-ASCII internet domain names.

If you hover over the link, you might see the Punycode translation appear in your browser’s bottom bar, even though the href itself is in Arabic script.

Thanks to ICANN, from today the Latin script no longer has a stranglehold on the domain name system.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell you what the three newly created internationalized domain name ccTLDs are, because none of the software on my machine wants to let me use them in a sentence without switching my cursor to right-to-left editing mid-way through the word or changing the characters entirely, and after ten minutes of beating my head against the keyboard I gave up.

Anyway, the new domains represent Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

They were all recently approved by ICANN as part of its “fast-track” IDN ccTLD process, which promises to give countries the equivalent of their ASCII ccTLD in their native script.

After 25 years, the English language no longer has exclusive rights on the DNS. Not what I’d call a “fast” track, but we got there eventually.

ICANN has more here.

Politics at play in DNS CERT debate

Kevin Murphy, April 12, 2010, Domain Policy

ICANN chief Rod Beckstrom may have shot himself in the foot when he claimed at the Nairobi meeting that the domain name system is “under attack” and “could stop at any given point in time”.

Beckstrom wants ICANN to create a new CERT, Computer Emergency Response Team, to coordinate DNS security, but he’s now seeing objections from country-code domain managers, apparently connected to his remarks last month.

Chris Disspain of auDA, Australia’s .au registry, has just filed comments on behalf of the ccNSO council, which he chairs, saying it’s not clear whether there’s any need for a DNS CERT, and that ICANN is moving too fast to create one.

It’s pretty clear from the ccNSO statement that Hot Rod’s fairly blunt remarks at the GAC meeting in Nairobi, which I transcribed in full here, have influenced the ccNSO’s thinking on the matter:

the comments of ICANN’s CEO and President, Rod Beckstrom, to governmental representatives in Nairobi, have the potential to undermine the productive relationships established under ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model, cause damage to the effective relationships that many ccTLD operators have developed with their national administrations and discounted the huge efforts of many in the ICANN and broader security community to ensure the ongoing security and stability of the Internet

Disspain had already strongly written to Beckstrom, during the ICANN meeting, calling his comments “inflammatory” and reiterating some of the points made in the latest ccNSO filing.

Beckstrom’s response to Disspain’s first letter is here. I would characterize it as a defense of his position.

It seems pretty crazy that something as important as the DNS has no official security coordination body but, as Disspain points out, there are already some organizations attempting to tackle the role.

DNS-OARC, for example, was set up to fulfill the functions of a DNS CERT. However, as founder Paul Vixie confessed, it has so far failed to do so. Vixie thinks energies would be better spent fixing DNS-OARC, rather than creating a new body.

ICANN’s comments period on its DNS CERT business case is open for another couple of days. It’s so far attracted only a handful of comments, mostly skeptical, mostly filed by ccTLD operators and mostly suggesting that other organizations could handle the task better.

If Beckstrom’s aim in Nairobi was to reignite the debate and Get Stuff Done by scaring stakeholders into action, he may find he’s been successful.

However, if his aim was to place ICANN at the center of the new security initiative, he may ultimately live to regret his remarks.

Either way, I expect DNS security will eventually improve as a result.

China domain name registrations plummeting

The Chinese ccTLD has lost almost four million domain name registrations since it implemented Draconian identification requirements last December.

According to CNNIC, the .cn manager, there were 9.53 million domains registered at the end of February, compared to 12.28 million in January and 13.45 million in December.

That’s a loss of 3.9 million domains since the new registration requirements were introduced mid-December.

The bulk of the loss appears to have come from pure .cn names, which dropped from 8.61 million in December to 6.14 million in February.

The .com.cn namespace lost about half a million names over the same period. The rest of the drop-off came in lesser-used second-level domains such a .org.cn.

Since December 14, CNNIC has required all Chinese registrants to provide photo ID before they register a domain.

Recently, the registry has tried to enforce retroactive enforcement of this requirement, causing registrars including Go Daddy and Network Solutions to abandon the TLD altogether.