Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Another victory for Amazon as ICANN rejects Colombian appeal

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2019, Domain Registries

Amazon’s application for .amazon has moved another step closer to reality, after ICANN yesterday voted to reject an appeal from the Colombian government.

The ICANN board of directors voted unanimously, with two conflict-related abstentions, to adopt the recommendation of its Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee, which apparently states that ICANN did nothing wrong when it decided back in May to move .amazon towards delegation.

Neither the board resolution nor the BAMC recommendation has been published yet, but the audio recording of the board’s brief vote on Colombia’s Request for Reconsideration yesterday can be found here.

As you will recall, Colombia and the seven other governmental members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization have been trying to stymie Amazon’s application for .amazon on what you might call cultural appropriation grounds.

ACTO governments think they have the better right to the string, and they’ve been trying to get veto power over .amazon’s registry policies, something Amazon has been strongly resisting.

Amazon has instead offered a set of contractual Public Interest Commitments, such as giving ACTO the ability to block culturally sensitive strings, in the hope of calming the governments’ concerns.

These PICs, along with Amazon’s request for Spec 13 dot-brand status, will likely be published for 30 days of public comment this week, Global Domains Division head Cyrus Namazi told the board.

Expect fireworks.

After comments are closed, ICANN will then make any tweaks to the PICs that are necessary, before moving forward to contract-signing with Amazon, Namazi .said.

The Amazon is burning. Is this good news for .amazon?

Kevin Murphy, August 26, 2019, Domain Policy

With the tide of international opinion turning against Brazil due to the ongoing forest fires in the Amazon, could we see governments change their tune when it comes to Amazon’s application for .amazon?

A much higher number of forest fires than usual are currently burning in the region, largely in Brazil, which critics led by environmentalists and French president Emmanuel Macron have blamed on relaxed “slash and burn” farming policies introduced by new Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

The rain forest is an important carbon sink, said to provide 20% of the world’s oxygen. The more of it is lost, the harder it is to tackle climate change, the argument goes.

It’s been an important topic at the Macro-hosted G7 summit, which ends today. Even the bloody Pope has weighed in.

Arguably, the stakes are nothing less than the survival of human civilization and life on Earth itself.

And this is a story about domain names. Sorry. This is a blog about domain names. My hands are tied.

Amazon the company has been fighting governments over its application for .amazon, along with the Chinese and Japanese translations, for over six years.

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee was responsible for killing off .amazon in 2013 after it decided by consensus that Amazon’s application should not proceed.

That decision was only reached after the US, under the Obama administration, decided to abstain from discussions.

The US had been protecting Amazon by blocking GAC consensus, but changed its tune partly in order to throw a bone to world leaders, including then-president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, who were outraged by CIA analyst Edward Snowden’s revelations of widespread US digital espionage.

After ICANN dutifully followed the GAC advice and rejected Amazon’s gTLD applications, Amazon appealed via the Independent Review Process and, in 2017, won.

The IRP panel ruled that the GAC’s objection had no clear grounding in public policy that could be gleaned from the record. It told ICANN to re-open the applications and evaluate them objectively.

Ever since then, the GAC’s advice to ICANN has been that it must “facilitate a mutually acceptable solution” between Amazon and the eight nations of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.

ICANN has been doing just that, or at least attempting to, for the last couple of years.

But the two parties failed to come to an agreement. ACTO wants to have essential veto power over Amazon’s use of .amazon, whereas Amazon is only prepared to offer lists of protected names, a minority position in any policy-setting body, and some sweeteners.

In May this year, ICANN’s board of directors voted to move .amazon along towards delegation, noting that there was “no public policy reason” why it should not.

In June, the government of Colombia filed a Request for Reconsideration with ICANN, demanding it reevaluate that decision.

The RfR was considered by ICANN’s Board Accountability Measures Committee at its meeting August 14, but its recommendation has not yet been published. I’m expecting it to be posted this week.

There’s still opportunity for the GAC to cause mischief, or act as a further delay on .amazon, but will it, in light of some country’s outrage over Brazil’s policy over the rain forest?

One could argue that if the nation that has the largest chunk of Amazon within its borders seems to have little regard to its international importance, why should its claim to ownership of the string “amazon” get priority over a big brand that has offered to protect culturally significant words and phrases?

Remember, as the example of the US in 2012/13 shows us, it only takes one government to block a GAC consensus. If Brazil or Peru continue to pursue their anti-Amazon path, could France throw a spanner in the works, smoothing .amazon’s road to delegation?

Anything’s possible, I suppose, but my feeling is that most governments back ACTO’s position largely because they’re worried that they could find themselves in a similar position of having to fight off an application for a “geographic” string in the next gTLD application round.

.amazon frozen AGAIN as endless government games continue

Kevin Murphy, June 25, 2019, Domain Policy

Amazon’s application for the .amazon gTLD has yet again been frozen, after a South American government invoked ICANN’s appeals process.

The bid, as well as applications for the Chinese and Japanese versions, were returned to “on-hold” status at the weekend, after Colombia filed a formal Request for Reconsideration, an ICANN spokesperson confirmed to DI.

“The processing toward contracting of the .AMAZON applications has been halted pending the resolution of Request 19-1, per ICANN organization’s normal processes,” the spokesperson said.

This means the applications could remain frozen for 135 days, until late October, while ICANN processes the request. It’s something that has happened several times with other contested gTLDs.

Colombia filed RfR 19-1 (pdf) on June 15. It demands that ICANN reverses its board’s decision of May 15, which handed Amazon a seemingly decisive victory in its long-running battle with the eight governments of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization.

ACTO’s members believe they should have policy control over .amazon, to protect the interests of their citizens who live in the region they share.

To win an RfR — something that hardly ever happens — a complainant has to show that the ICANN board failed to consider pertinent information before it passed a resolution.

In Colombia’s case, it argues that the board ignored an April 7 letter (since published in PDF format here) its Governmental Advisory Committee representative sent that raises some interesting questions about how Amazon proposes to operate its TLDs.

Because .amazon is meant to be a highly restricted “dot-brand” gTLD, it would presumably have to incorporate Specification 13 into its ICANN registry agreements.

Spec 13 releases dot-brands from commitments to registrar competition and trademark protection in exchange for a commitment that only the brand itself will be able to own domains in the TLD.

But Colombia points out that Amazon’s proposal (pdf) to protect ACTO governments’ interests would give the eight countries and ACTO itself “beneficial ownership” over a single domain each (believed to be names such as co.amazon, .br.amazon, etc).

If this means that Amazon would not qualify for Spec 13, it could follow that ICANN’s board made its decision to continue processing .amazon on faulty assumptions, Colombia argues.

Colombia points to the case of .sas, a dot-brand that is apparently shared by two companies that have the same brand, as a possible model for shared management of .amazon.

RfRs are handled by ICANN’s Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee.

BAMC took just a couple of days to rule out (pdf) Colombia’s request for “urgent reconsideration”, which would reduce its regular response time from 90 days to 7 days.

The committee said that because the .amazon applications were being placed back on-hold as part of normal procedure during consideration of an RfR, no harm could come to Colombia that would warrant “urgent” reconsideration.

According to ICANN’s spokesperson, under its bylaws the latest the board can respond to Colombia’s request is October 28.

At a GAC session at the ICANN 65 meeting in Marrakech, taking place right now, several ACTO governments have just spent over an hour firmly and publicly protesting ICANN’s actions surrounding .amazon.

They’re still talking as I hit “publish” on this post.

In a nutshell, they believe that ICANN has ignored GAC advice and reneged on its commitment to help Amazon and ACTO reach a “mutually acceptable solution”.

Drunk domain blogger gets mugged in Cartagena

Kevin Murphy, December 10, 2010, It's Friday

ICANN people love defining things, and a few people at the meeting here in Cartagena have disputed whether this anecdote meets the strict definition of “mugging”.

Okay, I didn’t wind up with a knife in my ribs, they weren’t carrying firearms, and they didn’t get my wallet.

But they were going to beat me up (at the very least) if I didn’t give them what they wanted and it’s really just blind luck that I managed to blag my way out of it.

I often find that these kinds of stories are better related in first-person present tense.

So it’s 4am, and I’m blatantly flouting ICANN’s security advice by walking, rather than getting a taxi, back from .CO Internet’s rather nice afterparty to my considerably less-nice hotel.

But it’s only two or three short blocks, and I’m inside the walled city, so I reckon I’m safe.

Wrong.

Two thuggish-looking blokes quickly appear beside me and one of them starts mouthing off in unusually good English about how I owe him money for a coke deal I’m apparently somehow implicated in.

I’m not kidding.

I forget the details, but the gist of it is that I need to give them both an unspecified large amount of money for some drugs that I stole or something and that Bad Things will happen to my face if I refuse.

Unfortunately for the Escobar brothers, it turns out that at 4am, with half a bottle of Colombian fire-water in my belly, I’m invincible.

Or believe myself to be, anyway.

So I decide to play dumb, and just carry on walking. I figure I’ll pretend for as long as possible that I’m simple, or don’t speak English. My hotel is in sight by this point.

“Okay,” I say, confused look on my face, after he finishes his story.

“So you give us money?” he says.

“Okay,” I say, not giving him money.

“You give us money now.” he’s not asking this time.

“Okay,” I say. Walking a bit faster.

This goes on for two blocks. As dumb luck would have it, by the time he starts to loses his patience we’ve already reached my hotel.

Of course, at 4am, my two-star dive has its doors locked, and I have to ring the buzzer to get in.

Normally, the young girl on the desk buzzes me through two seconds later. Of course, normally I don’t show up in the dead of night accompanied by two burly Colombian guys yelling about drug money.

So she understandably doesn’t want to let me in.

Trying to buy time, and unsure whether this is a violent scam or a genuine case of mistaken identity, I tell the guy he can have his money in the morning. Just drop by, pick it up, no worries.

I buzz again, but she still doesn’t want to let me in.

“You give me money now.”

I usually carry a bunch of small-denomination bills in my pocket when I’m on unfamiliar turf, for precisely this kind of scenario, so I grab a wad of notes and stuff them into his hand.

“Okay, here’s your money.”

Buzz again. Still no response.

I’m trying not to notice that the money I’ve just given him amounts to about two US dollars, but he clearly has noticed and is quite angry.

I’m told I now owe him 57,000 pesos, which strikes me as unusually specific.

Fortunately, I never get to find out why he settled on that amount. The girl buzzes me through and, after a brief struggle, Scarface eats door.

End of anecdote.

To me, it sounds like a mugging. Drug guys threatened to beat me up and I gave them $2 – that fits the definition, right? It may be the lamest mugging in Colombian history, but it’s still a mugging.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Next time, I’ll try to get stabbed or something.

“Beware of Hookers”, ICANN attendees told

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2010, Domain Policy

ICANN has published a security guide for delegates planning to attend its meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, this December, which makes quite entertaining reading.

A highlight of the report (pdf), prepared by outside consultants Control Risks, warns attendees to steer clear of bar prostitutes who plan to take advantage of them.

All travelers should avoid bars which have public touts (or “spruikers”) standing outside encouraging them to enter. Many of these bars attract high levels of local prostitutes, some who intend to rob tourists by drugging them in the bar or in their hotel rooms.

Sage advice.

The report also recommends staying off the streets after 11pm, using official taxis, keeping your wallets clean of identifying information, and not resisting muggers/abductors.

Fight for your life, but not your possessions.

I’m cherry-picking the scary stuff here, obviously. In general, the report says Cartagena is fairly safe. Last year, there were only two kidnappings in the city.

Cartagena enjoys a mostly deserved reputation as one of the safe destinations for foreign travelers in Colombia. Certainly, violent crime rarely affects foreign visitors to the city.

ICANN has said that it will commission such reports when there is a concern that security at its chosen meeting locations may not be up to scratch.

I believe the new meetings security plan was introduced in response to the vague terrorism threats that clouded the Nairobi meeting earlier this year, keeping many flighty Americans at home.