EURid is to expand sales of .eu domains to three countries outside the European Union from January 8.
Companies and individuals from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway will get to register .eu names, due to a rule change at the registry.
The three countries are members of the European Economic Area, which enjoys many of the trade benefits of the Union but without full EU membership.
EURid said that the 2002 European Parliament regulation that created .eu always envisaged the eventual expansion of the ccTLD to the EEA.
The change expands the registry’s addressable market by fewer than 5.4 million people, five million of whom are Norwegian.
The European Commission has opened up the .eu registry contract to competitive bidding.
The sort-of ccTLD has been managed by EurID since it launched 2004 but its contract, which has already been extended to its maximum term, is due to expire in October next year.
Would-be usurpers must be not-for-profit organizations based in the European Union, according to a Commission RFP, which should narrow the field quite a lot.
The .eu space has 3.7 million registered domain names, growing at 5.4% a year. Considering that the TLD is open to all in the EU, the numbers fare poorly compared to many European ccTLDs.
The deadline for submissions is June 20.
At least three of the European domain names seized in this year’s batch of Cyber Monday anti-counterfeiting law enforcement are now pointing to servers controlled by the US government.
We’ve found that chaussuresfoot.be, chaussurevogue.eu and eshopreplica.eu are now hosted on the same IP addresses as SeizedServers.com, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement site.
But the three domains, believed to be among the 132 grabbed ahead of this year’s online shopping rush, display warnings incorporating the logos of multiple European law enforcement agencies.
While domains in .dk, .fr, .ro and .uk were also targeted by this year’s transatlantic crackdown, none appear to be using SeizedServers.com.
According to an ICE press release yesterday, this was the first year that Operation In Our Sites, which kicked off at this time in 2010, has included overseas law enforcement.
The partnership, coordinated between ICE and Europol, was code-named Project Transatlantic.
European Union privacy officials have told ICANN that it risks forcing registrars to break the law by placing “excessive” demands on Whois accuracy.
In a letter to ICANN yesterday, the Article 29 Working Party said that two key areas in the proposed next version of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement are problematic.
It’s bothered by ICANN’s attempt to make registrars retain data about their customers for up to two years after registration, and by the idea that registrars should re-verify contact data every year.
These were among the requests made by law enforcement, backed up by the Governmental Advisory Committee, that ICANN has been trying to negotiate into the RAA for almost a year.
The letter (pdf) reads:
The Working Party finds the proposed new requirement to re-verify both the telephone number and the e-mail address and publish these contact details in the publicly accessible WHOIS database excessive and therefore unlawful. Because ICANN is not addressing the root of the problem, the proposed solution is a disproportionate infringement of the right to protection of personal data.
The “root cause” points to a much deeper concern the Working Party has.
Whois was designed to help people find technical and operational contacts for domain names, it argues. Just because it has other uses — such as tracking down bad guys — that doesn’t excuse infringing on privacy.
The problem of inaccurate contact details in the WHOIS database cannot be solved without addressing the root of the problem: the unlimited public accessibility of private contact details in the WHOIS database.
It’s good news for registrars that were worried about the cost implications of implementing a new, more stringent RAA.
But it’s possible that ICANN will impose the new requirements anyway, giving European registrars an opt-out in order to comply with local laws.
The letter is potentially embarrassing for the GAC, which seemed to take offense at the Prague meeting this June when it was suggested that law enforcement’s recommendations were not being balanced with the views of privacy watchdogs.
During a June 26 session between the GAC and the ICANN board, Australia’s GAC rep said:
I don’t come here as an advocate for law enforcement only. I come here with an Australian government position, and the Australian government has privacy laws. So you can be sure that from a GAC point of view or certainly from my point of view that in my positions, those two issues have been balanced.
That view was echoed during the same session by the European Commission and the US and came across generally like a common GAC position.
The Article 29 Working Party is an advisory body set up by the EU in 1995. It’s independent of the Commission, but it comprises one representative from the data privacy watchdogs in each EU state.
It’s going to be first-come, first-served on almost 9,000 seized .eu domain names next month, following a Eurid lawsuit against a Chinese cybersquatter.
The registry operator said today that it has taken control of the domains, which were registered shortly after .eu launched in 2006 by one Zheng Qinying, and will start to release them October 24.
Eurid went to court in 2007 after a string of cybersquatting cases against Zheng highlighted the fact that, as a Chinese citizen with no presence in the EU, she did not qualify to own .eu names.
An appeals court finally ruled a year ago that Zheng had no right to the domains, and Eurid now plans to make them available again on a first-come, first-served basis.
Don’t get too excited.
Judging by the small number of English domains on the 8,894-strong list, Zheng, despite being quick off the mark after .eu launched, registered quite a lot of garbage.
Don’t expect to see too many valuable English keyword domains. Do expect to see a lot of domains that probably would not stand up to a cybersquatting complaint.
The gems may lie in the many European surnames on the list. There may be some good non-English generics on it too, but this monolingual Anglo-Saxon has no idea.
The full list of Zheng’s domains in CSV format can be downloaded here.
UPDATE: A longer, no-holds-barred commentary by HosterStats’ John McCormac can be found here.