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Despite Brexit, .eu actually returned to growth in Q1

Brexit may have been pounding EURid’s domain base for the last few years, but .eu domains recovered a little in the first quarter due to promotional activity in Portugal.

The UK left the European Union on January 31, and Brits will lose their right to register and hold .eu domains when the so-called transition period ends at the end of the year.

Naturally enough, UK-based registrations of .eu domains continued to decline in Q1, down 24% year over year and 5% on the quarter to end March at 142,600 domains. It’s still the ninth-biggest eligible nation in terms of regs.

But a remarkable 64% spike in regs from Portugal, which EURid attributes to registrar-led promotions, seems to have helped .eu return to a growth state.

There were 80,000 .eu regs from Portugal at the end of the quarter, up by about 30,000 from the end of 2019, more than enough to counteract the 8,000-domain loss from the UK.

Overall, .eu grew from 3,579,689 domains to 3,623,050 domains during the quarter, an increase of about 43,000 or 0.5%.

The number of domains being claimed by EU citizens living outside the EU — possible under a newish policy — more than doubled to 759 domains.

Brexit hell: .eu suspension plan put on hold

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2019, Domain Registries

EURid’s policy to boot out Brits next week has been put on hold due to the current impasse in Brexit talks.

UK citizens had been told they would lose their .eu domains November 1, the first day the country was scheduled to no longer be a member of the European Union.

But the October 31 exit date appears increasingly unlikely, with the divorce plan agreed to by the EU and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson still in UK parliamentary limbo.

So EURid posted today:

Following the recent developments in the UK withdrawal scenario, the entire plan outlined below is on hold. We will keep you informed as soon as we receive further instructions from the European Commission.

Under the suspended plan, EURid would have emailed all of its UK and Gibraltar-based registrants tomorrow to inform them that their domains were in jeopardy.

It would have closed down new registrations to Brits on November 1 and given existing registrants a two-month grace period to come into compliance — by transferring their names to addresses in eligible nations — before suspending the names.

A year later, the names would be deleted and returned to the available pool.

EURid said it will provide further guidance when it gets word from the European Commission.

Now you don’t have to live in the EU to register a .eu domain, but there’s a catch

Kevin Murphy, October 21, 2019, Domain Registries

Residents of countries outside the European Union are now able to register .eu domain names.

A new rule that kicked in at the weekend broadened eligibility from only residents of the EU and European Economic Area. Now, residency is irrelevant.

The catch is that you have to still have to be an EU citizen to qualify.

EURid, the .eu registry, said the change opens up the ccTLD to “millions of Europeans living around the world”.

In practice, it could open up the space to basically anyone.

While residency can fairly easily be checked by looking at the mailing address in a Whois record, demonstrating citizenship is a different kettle of fish.

There’s no indication that EURid is asking registrars to collect passport numbers at the point of sale, so it appears to be a post-registration enforcement regime.

.eu is also still open to non-EU citizens who live in the EU or EEA.

.eu had 3.6 million names under management at the last count, having declined by about 200,000 since the Brexit vote three years ago.

Let’s see if the new, liberalized regime has any impact.

Kafka turns in grave as ICANN crowbars “useless” Greek TLD into the root

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2019, Domain Policy

ICANN has finally approved a version of .eu in Greek script, but it’s already been criticized as “useless”.

Yesterday, ICANN’s board of directors rubber-stamped .ευ, the second internationalized domain name version of the European Union’s .eu, which will be represented in the DNS as .xn--qxa6a.

There’s a lot of history behind .ευ, much of it maddeningly illustrative of ICANN’s Kafkaesque obsession with procedure.

The first amusing thing to point out is that .ευ is technically being approved under ICANN’s IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process, a mere NINE YEARS after EURid first submitted its application.

The “Fast Track” has been used so far to approve 61 IDN ccTLDs. Often, the requested string is merely the name of the country in question, written in one of the local scripts, and the TLD is approved fairly quickly.

But in some cases, especially where the desired string is a two-character code, a string review will find the possibility of confusion with another TLD. This runs the risk of broadening the scope of domain homograph attacks sometimes used in phishing.

That’s what happened to .ευ, along with Bulgaria’s Cyrillic .бг and Greece’s own .ελ, which were rejected on string confusion grounds back in 2010 and 2011.

Under pressure from the Governmental Advisory Committee, ICANN then implemented an Extended Process Similarity Review Panel, essentially an appeals process designed to give unsuccessful Fast Track applicants a second bite at the apple.

That process led to Bulgaria being told that .бг was not too similar to Brazil’s .br, and Greece being told that .ελ did not look too much like .EA, a non-existent ccTLD that may or may not be delegated in future, after all.

But the EU’s .ευ failed at the same time, in 2014. The appeals review panel found that the string was confusable with upper-case .EY and .EV.

Again, these are not ccTLDs, just strings of two characters that have the potential to become ccTLDs in future should a new country or territory emerge and be assigned those codes by the International Standards Organization, a low-probability event.

I reported at the time that .ευ was probably as good as dead. It seemed pretty clear based on the rules at the time that if a string was confusable in uppercase OR lowercase, it would be rejected.

But I was quickly informed by ICANN that I was incorrect, and that ICANN top brass needed to discuss the results.

That seems to have led to ICANN tweaking the rules yet again in order to crowbar .ευ into the root.

In 2015, the board of directors reached out to the GAC, the ccNSO and the Security and Stability Advisory Committee for advice.

They dutifully returned two years later with proposed changes (pdf) that seemed tailor-made for the European Union’s predicament.

A requested IDN ccTLD that caused confusion with other strings in only uppercase, but not lowercase (just like .ευ!!!) could still get delegated, provided it had a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy in place, they recommended.

The recommendation was quickly approved by ICANN, which then sent its implementation guidelines (again, tailor-made for EURid (pdf)) back to the ccNSO/SSAC.

It was not until February this year that the ccNSO/SSAC group got back to ICANN (pdf) to approve of its implementation plan and to say that it has already tested it against EURid’s proposed risk-mitigation plan (pdf).

Basically, the process in 2009 didn’t produce the desired result, so ICANN changed the process. It didn’t produced the desired result again in 2014, so the process was changed again.

But at least Greek-speaking EU citizens are finally going to get a meaningful ccTLD that allows them to express their EUishness in their native script, right?

WRONG!

I recently read with interest and surprise a blog post by domainer-blogger Konstantinos Zournas, in which he referred to .ευ as the “worst domain extension ever”.

Zournas, who is Greek, opened my eyes to the fact that “.ευ” is meaningless in his native tongue. It’s just two Greek letters that visually resemble “EU” in Latin script. It’s confusing by design, but with .eu, a ccTLD that EURid already manages.

While not for a moment doubting Zournas’ familiarity with his own language, I had to confirm this on the EU’s Greek-language web site.

He’s right, the Greek for “European Union” is “Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης”, so the sensible two-letter IDN ccTLD would be .ΕΈ (those are Greek characters that look a bit like Latin E).

That would have almost certainly failed the ICANN string similarity process, however, as .ee/EE is the current, extant ccTLD for Estonia.

In short (too late), it seems to have taken ICANN the best part of a decade, and Jesus H Christ knows how many person-hours, to hack its own procedures multiple times in order to force through an application for a TLD that doesn’t mean anything, can’t be confused with anything that currently exists on the internet, and probably won’t be widely used anyway.

Gratz to all involved!

“We’re Irish!” claim Brits as .eu shrinks yet again

Kevin Murphy, August 14, 2019, Domain Registries

British companies are moving their .eu domain names to their Irish branches in an effort to keep them after Brexit, according to the speculations of EURid.

.eu regs in Ireland grew 18% to 47,781 in the second quarter, according to the registry’s Q2 roundup. EURid said:

The high increase in Ireland could be related to the notice about UK withdrawal from the EU and its subsequence to UK .eu domain name holders. Some of the UK domain name holders may have had the chance to transfer the domain names to their branches in other countries of the EU and EEA, e.g. the neighboring Ireland.

Regs in the UK dropped by 13.9% compared to Q1 and by almost half — 46.7% — year over year. There are now 162,287 UK-based .eu domains.

Overall, .eu is still shrinking, partly as a result of this Brexit impact, which has been felt ever since the 2016 referendum.

There were 3,602,573 registered domains at the end of June, down from 3,661,899 at the end of March.

UK-based registrants have been told that they cannot continue to own .eu domains after Brexit, currently slated for October 31. It’s still a possibility that the date could change, or that Brexit may not happen at all.

Confusing matters, EU citizens living in the UK will still be eligible for .eu domains.

All this data, plus a whole lot more, can be read in the EURid Q2 report (pdf).

EURid inks trademark protection deal for non-trademark owners

.eu registry EURid is partnering on an alerts service for would-be trademark owners.

The company this week announced a deal with the EU Intellectual Property Office that will see applicants for European trademarks being able to receive alerts if and when somebody else registers the .eu domain matching their desired mark.

EURid said in a statement:

Some people have taken advantage of early publication of EUTM applications and registered the EUTM as a .eu domain name in bad faith. Effectively reducing the risk of such cyber-squatting infringements requires adopting preventive actions such as raising awareness and pro-actively informing the EUTM holders.

As of 18 May, holders and applicants of a EUTM can opt-in to receive alerts as soon as a .eu domain name is registered that is identical to their EUTM (application). By receiving such alert, EUTM holders are informed much faster and may take appropriate action much sooner.

It sounds a little like the Trademark Claims service new gTLD registries are obliged to offer during their launch, but for companies that not not yet actually own the trademarks concerned.

Offered by EUIPO itself, the service is also available to holders of EU trademarks.

Revenue dips as Brexit whacks .eu in 2018

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2019, Domain Registries

.eu saw its registrations sink substantially in 2018, largely due to Brexit, which affected its revenue and profit.

Registry EURid said yesterday that it was managing 3,684,750 .eu domains at the end of the year, down by 130,305 over the year.

It’s .eu’s lowest end-of-year domain count since 2012.

The UK, which voted to leave the EU in 2016 but has yet to follow through, sank from the fourth-largest .eu country to the sixth, now behind less populous countries Poland and Italy.

EURid and the UK government have warned UK-based registrants that they stand to lose their domains after Brexit is actually executed (if it ever is)

As Brits abandoned their .eu names by the tens of thousands, EURid also suspended over 36,000 domains for abuse, which affected its annual total.

The decline hit EURid’s revenue, which was down to €12.7 million, from €13.3 million in 2017. Profit was down from €1.7 million, from €2 million.

The data was published in the registry’s annual report (pdf), published yesterday.

Brexit blamed as .eu hits six-year low

Kevin Murphy, February 4, 2019, Domain Registries

EURid’s .eu top-level domain has hit a six-year low in terms of total registrations, and Brexit is to blame.

The registry has just announced that it had 3,684,750 domains under management at the end of 2018, down 63,129 domains compared to the 3,747,879 it had at the end of September.

That’s the lowest end-of-quarter number since September 2012, when it had 3,665,525 domains.

EURid said in a statement that the decline can be attributed to its “ramped up efforts towards tackling domain name abuse” and “uncertainty surrounding Brexit”.

The registry recently announced that UK-based .eu registrants can expect to lose their names by May, should the country crash out of the EU with no transition deal on March 29.

EU citizens living in the UK could also risk having their names temporarily suspended.

The number of .eu domains registered to the UK addresses dropped from 273,060 at the end of Q3 to 240,887 at the end of Q4, a 32,173 decline.

EURid said it also suspended 36,520 domains for abuse during the period.

Factoring out both of these drops, registrations would have otherwise been up by about 5,000.

Brexit won’t just affect Brits, .eu registry says

Kevin Murphy, January 25, 2019, Domain Policy

European Union citizens living in the UK could find their .eu domain names shut off in the next few months, EURid has said.

In a just-published update to its Brexit guidance, the registry has told Brits that they stand to lose their domains on May 30, should the UK leave the EU with no transition deal.

That would give them just two months to transfer their domains to an entity in one of the remaining 27 member states.

On May 30, affected domains will be removed from the .eu zone file and will stop resolving, technically entering “withdrawn” status.

It will be no longer be possible to renew these domains, nor to transfer any domains to a UK-based registrant.

All affected domains — over 273,000 at the last-published count — will be deleted and released back into the available pool, in batches, following March 30, 2020.

This could be good news for domainers in the EU27, given that the deleted domains may include potentially valuable generics.

But EU27 citizens currently residing in the UK, who for whatever reason are unable to transfer their names to an address in their home country, will be treated at first in the same way as Brits. EURid said:

There may be situations of EU citizens, who at present are residing in the UK and have registered a .eu domain name. These citizens would become ineligible as a result of the UK withdrawal and would, therefore lose their eligibility for a .eu domain name, but might become eligible again when the new .eu regulatory framework comes into force later this year. At present, such individuals will experience a disruption of service from 30 May 2019, as a result of the withdrawal of the name.

The registry said last month that new regulations are coming that would allow EU citizens to register .eu domains no matter in which country they live.

Before these regulations kick in, these EU registrants will find their names unresolvable.

By May 30, starving Brits will be far too preoccupied with beating each other to death in the streets for scraps of the country’s last remaining baguette, trading sexual favors for insulin, and so on, so .eu domains will likely be among the least of their no-deal Brexit concerns.

The situation for registrants if the UK leaves the EU with a deal is less urgent. Their domains will stop functioning March 2, 2021, and from January 1, 2022, will be released back into the pool for registration.

Brits would be able to register new .eu domains all the way through the transition period, until the end of December 2020.

It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Brits could be grandfathered in to .eu eligibility, should the UK leave on terms similar to European Economic Area members such as Norway, which are eligible under the existing rules.

Currently, it’s anyone’s guess whether we’re leaving with a deal or without. The government’s proposed transition plan was defeated earlier this month in an unprecedented revolt by members of parliament, which leaves no-deal enshrined in the statute books as the default option.

The government is currently attempting to talk its MPs into switching sides, but many suspect it’s just attempting to run down the clock to the March 29 Brexit deadline, compelling MPs to vote for the transition at the eleventh hour as the lesser of two evils.

The opposition is currently urging the government to rule out a no-deal scenario, to discourage British businesses from executing potentially irreversible and damaging exit plans, but the government is reluctant to do so, fearing it could weaken its negotiating hand with the EU27.

The far more-sensible option — giving British voters the opportunity to change their minds with a referendum — appears to be gaining support among MPs but still seems like a pipe dream.

There’s some evidence that the UK is now officially a demographically Remain country, simply due to the number of elderly racists who have died, and the number of youthful idealists who have reached voting age, since the original 2016 referendum.

UK tells .eu registrants to lawyer up as no-deal Brexit looms

Kevin Murphy, January 3, 2019, Domain Policy

British .eu registrants have been urged to consider another top-level domain or seek legal advice due to the risk of losing their names if a no-deal Brexit happens.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issued guidance shortly before Christmas, encouraging UK individuals and businesses to talk to their registrars about their .eu eligibility after March 29, currently the date we’re scheduled to leave the EU.

“[Y]ou may wish to discuss transferring your registration to another top level domain,” the guidance states. “Examples of other top level domains include .com, .co.uk, .net or .org.”

I’m sure Nominet will be delighted to see the UK government apparently prefers .com to .uk.

The guidance points to the European Commission’s own notice of March 2018, which informs Brits that they won’t be eligible to register or renew .eu domains after Brexit, and that the registry will be able to turn off those names at will.

That’s assuming a no-deal Brexit, it seems. The new UK guidance suggests that a Brexit with a transition plan is likely to give registrants a bit more breathing space, and possible future rights to retain their names.

Even though .eu is not a TLD you’ll typically see on a billboard or TV commercial in the UK — I’m fairly confident I’ve never seen one in the wild here — it seems that Brits are responsible for a big chunk of the namespace.

There were 273,000 .eu domains registered in the UK at the end of the third quarter 2018, according to EURid (pdf), down 10% on the same period 2017, a decline squarely attributed to Brexit.

There were 3.75 million .eu domains in total, with the UK being the fourth-largest source of registrations.

If you haven’t been following the Brexit saga recently, lucky you! I’ll quickly explain what’s going on.

The British parliament is currently on the verge of deciding whether to leave the EU with a negotiated deal that nobody likes — the equivalent of sawing off a perfectly healthy testicle with a rusty blade for no reason — or to leave the EU with no deal — the equivalent of sawing off both perfectly healthy testicles with a rusty blade for no reason.

The option of keeping both testicles intact and attached is unlikely to be put to the British people because two years ago we were all assured that amateur backstreet castration was fricking awesome and we’re now being warned that the almost 52% of the population who believed the horseshit, and are almost certainly too stupid to have changed their minds in the meantime, will riot in the streets rather than recast their votes.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Come April 1, don’t be surprised if DI is being brought to you from a country with fewer idiots. I’m open to suggestions. Somewhere warm, preferably.

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