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ICANN 50% renewal predictions not based on registry data

Kevin Murphy, March 25, 2015, Domain Registries

ICANN’s projection that new gTLDs will see renewals of between 25% and 50% is not based on empirical data from new gTLD registries.

The predictions, which come in under industry standard expectations, are “conservative and somewhat subjective”, ICANN said.

The organization last week revealed that its 2016 budget is partly based on a high estimate of 50% renewals, with 25% for registries that gave their domains away for free.

Because ICANN would have been in possession of actual registry transaction reports for February at the time of publication, I wondered whether the 50% number was anchored in early new gTLD registries’ actual experience.

Transaction reports give the actual number of renewals each registry gets in any given month.

But ICANN told DI today that its 2016 budget was “produced in November 2014 and reviewed in January 2015 by the GDD Domain Name Services team.”

An ICANN spokesperson said:

These projections are strictly for revenue planning, so they are rather conservative and somewhat subjective. We have limited historical data to refer to when examining new gTLD domain name renewals; these are uncharted waters.

As renewals occur, we will be in a better position to refine our assumptions when and if the actual data varies widely from what we have assumed in our model.

Donuts’ current renewal number, revealed as part of a blog series, is 71%. It has not yet stabilized.

NTAG rubbishes new gTLD collision risk report

Kevin Murphy, August 15, 2013, Domain Policy

The New gTLD Applicants Group has slated Interisle Consulting’s report into the risk of new gTLDs causing security problems on the internet, saying the problem is “overstated”.

The group, which represents applicants for hundreds of gTLDs and has a non-voting role in ICANN’s GNSO, called on ICANN to reclassify hundreds of “Uncalculated” risk strings as “Low” risk, meaning they would not face as substantial a delay before or uncertainty about their eventual delegation.

But NTAG said it “agreed” that the high-risk .corp and .home “should be delayed while further studies are conducted”. The current ICANN proposal is actually to reject both of these strings.

NTAG was responding to ICANN’s proposal earlier this month to delay 523 applications (for 279 strings) by three to six months while further studies are carried out.

The proposal was based on Interisle’s study of DNS root server logs, which showed many millions of daily queries for gTLDs that currently do not exist but have been applied for.

The worry is that delegating those strings would cause problems such as downtime or data leakage, where sensitive information intended for a recipient on the same local network would be sent instead to a new gTLD registry or one of its (possibly malicious) registrants.

NTAG reckons the risk presented by Interisle has been overblown, and it presented a point-by-point analysis of its own. It called for everything except .corp and .home to be categorized “Low” risk, saying:

We recognize that a small number of applied for names may possibly pose a risk to current operations, but we believe very strongly that there is no quantitative basis for holding back strings that pose less measurable threat than almost all existing TLDs today. This is why we urge the board to proceed with the applications classified as “Unknown Risk” using the mitigations recommended by staff for “Low Risk” strings. We believe the 80% of strings classified as “Low Risk” should proceed immediately with no additional mitigations.

The group pointed to a recent analysis by Verisign (which, contrarily, was trying to show that new gTLDs should be delayed) which included data about previous new gTLD delegations.

That report (pdf) said that .xxx was seeing 4,018 look-ups per million queries at the DNS root (PPM) before it was delegated. The number for .asia was 2,708.

If you exclude .corp and .home, both of those PPM numbers are multiples larger than the equivalent measures of query volume for every applied-for gTLD today, also according to Verisign’s data.

NTAG said:

None of these strings pose any more risk than .xxx, .asia and other currently operating TLDs.

the least “dangerous” current gTLD on the chart, .sx, had 331 queries per million in 2006. This is a higher density of NXDOMAIN queries than all but five proposed new TLDs. 4 Again, .sx was launched successfully in 2012 with none of the problems predicted in these reports.

Verisign’s report, which sought to provide a more qualitative risk analysis based on some data-supported guesses about where the error traffic is coming from and why, anticipated this interpretation.

Verisign said:

This could indicate that there is nothing to worry about when adding new TLDs, because there was no global failure of DNS when this was done before. Alternately, one might conclude that traffic volumes are not the only indicator of risk, and the semantic meaning of strings might also play a role. We posit that in some cases, those strings with semantic meanings, and which are in common use (such as in speech, writing, etc.) pose a greater risk for naming collision.

The company spent most of its report making somewhat tenuous correlations between its data (such as a relatively large number of requests for .medical from Japanese IP addresses) and speculative impacts (such as “undiagnosed system failures” at “a healthcare provider in Japan”).

NTAG, by contrast, is playing down the potential for negative outcomes, saying that in many cases the risks introduced by new gTLDs are no different from collision risks at the second level in existing TLDs.

Just as the NTAG would not ask ICANN to halt .com registrations while a twelve month study is performed on these problems, we believe there is no reason to introduce a delay in diversifying the Internet’s namespace due to these concerns.

While it stopped short of alleging shenanigans this time around, NTAG also suggested that future studies of root server error traffic could be gamed if botnets were engaged to crapflood the roots.

Its own mitigation plan, which addresses Interisle’s specific concerns, says that most of the reasons that non-existent TLDs are being looked up are either not a problem or can be easily mitigated.

For example, it says that queries for .youtube that arrived in the form of a request for “www.youtube” are probably browser typos and that there’s no risk for users if they’re taken to the YouTube dot-brand instead of youtube.com.

In another example, it points out that requests for “.cisco” or “.toshiba” without any second-level domains won’t resolve anyway, if dotless domains are banned in those TLDs. (NTAG, which has influential members in favor of dotless domains, stopped short of asking for a blanket ban.)

The Interisle report, and ICANN’s proposal to deal with it, are open for public comment until September 17. NTAG’s response is remarkably quick off the mark, for guessable reasons.

First new gTLD objection scalps claimed

Employ Media has killed off the Chinese-language gTLD .招聘 in the latest batch of new gTLD objection results.

Amazon and DotKids Foundation’s respective applications for .kids also appear to be heading into a contention set with Google’s bid for .kid, following the first String Confusion Objections.

All three objections were marked as “Closed, Default” by objection handler the International Center For Dispute Resolution a few days ago. No full decisions were published.

This suggests that the objectors have won all three cases on technicalities (such as the applicant failing to file a response).

Employ Media vice president for policy Ray Fassett confirmed to DI that the company has prevailed in its objection against .招聘, which means “recruitment” in Chinese and would have competed with .jobs.

The String Confusion Objection can be filed based on similarity of meaning, not just visual similarity.

What’s more, if the objector is an existing TLD registry like Employ Media, the only remedy is for the losing applicant to have their application rejected by ICANN.

So Hu Yi Global Information Resources, the .招聘 applicant, appears to be finished as far as this round of the new gTLD program is concerned.

But because there’s no actual ICDR decision on the merits of the case, it seems possible that it, or another company, could try for the same string in a future round.

In Google’s case, it had objected to both the Amazon and DotKids applications for .kids on string confusion grounds. The company is applying for .kid, which is obviously very similar.

The String Similarity Panel, which created the original pre-objection contention sets, decided that singular and plurals could co-exist without confusion. Not everyone agreed.

Because .kid is merely an application, not an existing TLD, none of the bids are rejected. Instead, they all join the same contention set and will have to work out their differences some other way.

Applicants are under no obligation to fight objections; they may even want to be placed in a contention set.

97 new gTLD applicants get pass from ICANN

ICANN has just released this week’s batch of Initial Evaluation results, with 97 passing applications to report.

The results were published a couple of days early due to the Independence Day holiday in the US.

There were no failures this week. The following applications received passing scores and proceed to the next phase of the program.

.cloud .app .marketing .corp .llp .blog .dnb .radio .mtr .gay .gmbh .accountant .site .yodobashi .norton .rmit .host .auto .ltd .play .cafe .bosch .jaguar .realestate .cashbackbonus .plus .mobile .cityeats .uol .amica .hair .yahoo .philips .corp .beauty .schmidt .tiaa .yellowpages .alsace .gent .lds .home .auction .chat .travelersinsurance .delta .corsica .dvag .bugatti .online .living .golf .flowers .hot .sharp .guitars .store .video .discount .realestate .mozaic .club .builders .build .whoswho .vote .limited .international .hdfc .yun .sakura .ifm .group .ceb .gifts .box .hbo .dev .asda .sport .allfinanzberater .radio .sale .taobao .training .dtv .mail .sncf .rent .marriott .jpmorganchase .audio .guide .statefarm .now .gucci .work

The results bring the total number of passing bids to 1,006. Only 823 applications remain in Initial Evaluation.

The official (unrealistic) go-live date for new gTLDs is September 28

Kevin Murphy, June 6, 2013, Domain Policy

September 28 could be (won’t be) the launch date of the first new gTLD sunrise period, according to a (unrealistic) timetable released by ICANN yesterday.

During a webinar for new gTLD applicants, program head Christine Willett presented the following slide:

Timetable

As you can see, using this timetable the first registry contract would be signed one month from now and the TLD itself would hit the root around August 28. Sunrise would follow a month later.

Willett was very clear that the timetable represents the absolute shortest path an application could take, and that it’s unlikely that any application will actually make it.

What the timetable deliberately fails to include is any delay caused by Governmental Advisory Committee advice.

The GAC’s Beijing communique had advice for all applicants, remember, but the response is currently being handled by the ICANN board and not new gTLD program staff, so the outcome is unknown.

The communique contains six “Safeguards Applicable to all New gTLDs” which are controversial because they appear to duplicate or preempt existing policy work, for example on Whois rules.

If ICANN adopts the advice wholesale, it’s difficult to see how these safeguards could be enforced if not by contract, which could delay the contract approval or contracting phases of the timeline.

If ICANN does not adopt the advice wholesale, it will have to consult with the GAC to find a “mutually acceptable solution”.

Last time it deviated from GAC advice, which covered considerably less complex ground, there was a great deal of to-and-fro over the space of months along with four days of face-to-face meetings.

The only hint so far that ICANN may be creating a fast-track for applicants came in notes from its May 18 New gTLD Program Committee meeting, which said:

The Committee agreed that it would adopt a strategy that permits full consideration of the ongoing community comment forum while resolving GAC advice in a manner that permits as many applications as possible to keep making forward progress.

Speculatively, could we be looking at some kind of hack? A way for new gTLD applicants to blindly sign up to whatever future agreement the GAC and ICANN come to, in exchange for a speedy delegation?

Or is it an indication that ICANN is leaning towards approving the “safeguards” that apply to all new gTLDs?

The GAC advice is open for public comment until June 11, so we won’t find out until the second half of the month at the earliest.

Now we’re getting serious: 92 new gTLD bids pass

ICANN has stepped up the pace of its Initial Evaluation results schedule, this evening publishing the results of 92 new gTLD applications.

Applications for the following strings have passed IE this week:

.fishing, .casa, .gop, .home, .love, .budapest, .book, .kiwi, .llc, .iselect, .audible, .wedding, .cpa, .earth, .delivery, .tickets, .msd, .neustar, .ski, .lease, .salon, .monster, .immo, .oldnavy, .pin, .design, .pets, .berlin, .eco, .movistar, .rocher, .graphics, .art, .cam, .health, .wien, .technology, .pioneer, .lancia, .reviews, .grainger, .news, .deals, .mov, .solutions, .genting, .pizza, .smile, .hotmail, .pramerica, .memorial, .music, .icbc, .media, .law, .travelchannel, .akdn, .spot, .game, .wedding, .ltd, .merck, .llc, .tickets, .nyc, .lawyer, .aws, .mrmuscle, .poker, .ltd, .realestate, .fujixerox, .microsoft, .realty, .kim, .chesapeake, .gifts, .flowers, .caravan, .mini, .band, .autos, .afamilycompany, .review, .fashion, .shop, .city, .gallery, .toray, .youtube, .kindle and .now.

There were no failures, neither have there been any withdrawals this week.

This week’s batch is notable for including over a dozen applications with Minds + Machines back-ends, which had been delayed in some cases for over a month.

It also contains the first “corporate identifier” strings to pass.

ICANN’s evaluators have now passed 433 applications and failed three. We’re up to priority number 500 in the publication running order.

First 27 new gTLDs pass evaluation

Kevin Murphy, March 22, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has started reporting the results of Initial Evaluation in its new gTLD program as promised, delivering a passing grade to 27 applications today.

So far, no bids appear to have explicitly flunked IE, judging by ICANN’s web site.

However, some of the applications in the top 27 in the prioritization queue are still flagged as being in IE — the Japanese Chinese-script dot-brand .淡马锡 and Samsung’s .삼성.

ICANN said:

For some applications Initial Evaluation results were not yet available for one or more possible reasons such as: pending change requests, clarifying questions, or follow-up with applicants regarding missing information. The results for these applications will be published as soon as the relevant processes are completed.

Due to the way the queue was rigged, all 27 passes are for internationalized domain names, such as Verisign’s .net transliteration .大拿 and Amazon’s Japanese .fashion (.ファッション).

Those that have passed IE and have no objections and no contention can now pass in to predelegation testing and contract negotiations with ICANN.

All IE results are expected to be released by August.

Is .home back on ICANN’s new gTLD risk list?

Kevin Murphy, January 13, 2013, Domain Tech

While most new gTLD applicants were focused on delays to the program revealed during last Friday’s ICANN webinar, another bit of news may also be a cause for concern for .home applicants.

As Rubens Kuhl of Nic.br spotted, ICANN revealed that 11 applications have not yet passed their DNS Stability check.

SLide

That’s a reversal from November, when ICANN said that all new gTLD applications had passed the stability review.

As I noted at the time, that was good news for .home, which some say may cause security problems if it is delegated.

As Kuhl observed, there are exactly 11 applications for .home, the same as the number of applications that now appear to have un-passed the DNS Stability check.

So is ICANN taking a closer look at .home, or is it just a numerical coincidence?

The string is considered risky by many because .home already receives a substantial amount of DNS traffic at the root servers, which will be inherited by whichever company wins the contention set.

It’s on a list of frequently requested invalid TLDs produced by ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee which was incorporated by reference in the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook.

Some major ISPs, notably BT in the UK, use .home as a pseudo-TLD in their residential routers.

New gTLD lottery tickets now on sale

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN has started selling its $100-a-pop New gTLD Prioritization Draw raffle tickets in Los Angeles, with a little less than a week to go until the make-or-break drawing.

The organization is understandably eager not to balls it up this time — the Draw replaces Digital Archery, which was killed off largely due to how silly it was — so there are strict rules in place.

Due to the Californian lottery laws the Draw will operate under, applicants have to show up in person to buy their tickets, or ask a designated proxy to do it for them.

To avoid any funny business, each buyer has to show up with a government ID with details matching those on the special Designation Form, which in turn must be signed by a named individual from the gTLD application itself.

It’s strictly one ticket per application, of course.

Some applicants have got in early. Here’s photographic evidence that some applicants have successfully bought theirs, courtesy of Uniregistry counsel Bret Fausett.

Draw tickets

The draw itself will take place on December 17, starting at about 1pm local time, at the LA airport Hilton. Anyone who shows up to buy tickets after 11am that day will be turned away.

With over 1,900 applications, we could be looking at eight hours or more of pulling pieces of paper out of a bucket.

The whole thing will be webcast for people who, like me, have nothing better to do with their time.

Opting out of the process is as simple as not buying a ticket, but there’ll be a secondary draw to determine the prioritization of opted-out applications.

Applications for internationalized domain names will be drawn first, followed by non-IDNs, followed by opted-out IDNs, followed by opted-out non-IDNs.

Why is this lottery so important?

For many applicants it’s going to determine their time to market, which could mean the difference between launching into a market eager for new real estate and launching into one jaded by flops.

In some cases a good draw number could be worth millions. But unfortunately for applicants, they won’t be able to trade their tickets or prioritization slots.

Independent Objector launches web site

Kevin Murphy, October 26, 2012, Domain Registries

The new gTLD program’s Independent Objector has launched his own web site, independently from ICANN.

Alain Pellet is the French international law expert appointed in May to the IO role. The new web site also reveals that one Julien Boissise is assisting him.

The IO’s job is to file Community Objections and Limited Public Interest Objections against new gTLD applications, should the need arise.

In practice, I’d be very surprised to see any of the latter filed during the current application round, but I’d expect to see several Community Objections.

Pellet will file his objections before January 13, according to the web site. That’s the current objection-filing deadline, which ICANN plans to extend to March 13.