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Three gTLD Community Objections rejected

Kevin Murphy, October 30, 2013, Domain Registries

International Chamber of Commerce panelists have recently rejected three Community Objections against new gTLD applications.

The dismissals include objections to the controversial Turkey-based bids for .islam and .halal, filed by Asia Green IT System, which had raised the ire of the United Arab Emirates’ telecommunications regulator.

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority — also the operator of its ccTLDs — said it was representing the wider Islamic community under orders from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

But ICC panelist Bernardo Cremades ruled, based on a close reading of the OIC’s letter to the TRA and other member states, that the OIC had not formally backed the objection.

While there were over 100 public comments objecting to .islam and over 70 to .halal, because the TRA merely referred to them rather than submitting copies as evidence, the panelist chose to ignore them completely.

He also noted that only the UAE has chosen to file a formal objection.

So Cremades ruled that there was no “substantial opposition” to the applications, which is one of the things objectors need to prove in order to win an objection.

The TRA also failed to persuade the panelist that there was “a likelihood of any material detriment” to the Muslim community if Asia Green’s gTLDs were to be delegated, writing:

The Objector has certainly not provided any evidence that the Respondent is not acting or does not intend to act in accordance with the interests of the Muslim community.

So the TRA’s objections were dismissed and the applicant can proceed to the next phase of the new gTLD program.

Also dismissed recently was Bundesverband der Deutschen Tourismuswirtschaft’s objection to Donuts’ application for .reisen (“travel” in German).

BTW, a German travel industry association, is associated with a competing bid for .reise. Weirdly, it did not file a String Confusion Objection against Donuts’ .reisen.

It had argued among other things that German speakers would expect .reisen to conform to German and European consumer protection laws, while Donuts is planning an open and unrestricted gTLD.

The ICC panelist didn’t buy that argument, noting that a hotel in Argentina could market itself as German-speaking without having to abide by, say, European data protection law.

He also ruled that BTW showed substantial opposition from the commercial sector of German-language travel agents, but not from other sections of the community such as individual travelers.

Finally, he ruled that Donuts had promised to put enough protection mechanisms in place to mean there was unlikely to be a detriment to the .reisen community.

The objection was dismissed.

ICANN compliance not broken, Ombudsman rules

Kevin Murphy, October 28, 2013, Domain Policy

Ombudsman Chris LaHatte has rejected a complaint from spam research firm KnujOn — and 173 of its supporters — claiming that ICANN’s compliance department is failing consumers.

In a ruling posted online today, LaHatte said there was “no substance” to complaints that a small number of “bad” registrars, notably BizCN, have been allowed to run wild.

KnujOn’s Garth Bruen is a regular and vocal critic of ICANN compliance, often claiming that it ignores complaints about bad Whois data and fails to enforce the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, enabling fake pharma spamming operations to run from domains sponsored by ICANN-accredited registrars.

This CircleID blog post should give you a flavor.

The gist of the complaint was that ICANN regularly fails to enforce the RAA when registrars allow bad actors to own domain names using plainly fake contact data.

But LaHatte ruled, based on a close reading of the contracts, that the Bruen and KnujOn’s supporters have overestimated registrars’ responsibilities under the RAA. He wrote:

the problem is that the complainants have overstated the duties of the registrar, the registrant and the role of compliance in this matrix.

He further decided that allegations about ICANN compliance staff being fired for raising similar issues were unfounded.

It’s a detailed decision. Read the whole thing here.

Chehade talks up split from US oversight

Kevin Murphy, October 28, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade used his keynote address at the newdomains.org conference this morning to discuss his plans to divorce the organization from US governmental oversight.

With a split from the US recurring theme in his recent speeches, Chehade nevertheless warned that there were risks that such a move could create a dangerous governance vacuum.

“The current ICANN contract that gives the US government a unique role in the root management function is not sustainable,” he said. “It’s just not sustainable.”

That seems to be a reference to the IANA contract, in which the US has essentially a veto on ICANN’s decisions regarding root zone changes such as new gTLD delegations.

“I think we need to think together how we grow from that and how we globalize that contract,” he said. “But we need to be very careful about creating a vacuum or uninteded consequences that would destabilize the root of the internet.”

While Chehade noted that a split from the US has always been envisaged, he said that the revelations about US internet surveillance made by NSA defector Edward Snowden has provided a catalyst to speed it up.

When Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff recently called for a “multilateral” (read: inter-governmental, (read: ITU)) approach to internet governance, Chehade and an ICANN team traveled to Brazil to persuade her to instead focus on the creation of a “multistakeholder” model instead.

There’s now a “coalition” of the “I*” groups (ICANN, IETF, etc), big-name companies such as Disney, and governments such as Brazil, focused on creating multistakeholder solutions to problems — such as spam and cyber-bullying — that are not in ICANN’s purview Chehade said.

There’s a multistakeholder meeting planned for April or May next year (I’ve heard both dates), to be hosted by Brazil, that will look at internet governance post-Snowden.

This meeting is about “allowing ICANN to not expand its remit”, according to Chehade. He said: “We don’t want to expand our remit.”

What we seem to be looking at here is the creation for a new organization, of which ICANN could be a member, that will allow stakeholders to coordinate responses to tricky cross-border internet problems.

While ICANN seems to be taking the leading role in its creation, it doesn’t sound like ICANN is trying to get into issues beyond naming and addressing, judging by Chehade’s speech this morning

Chehade also talked up ICANN’s support for the domain name industry.

He admitted that ICANN has caused a lot of problems for new gTLD applicants over the course of the gTLD program, but promised that this will change, with ICANN taking a more “background” role.

“You need less risk and more stability from the ICANN side,” he said. “You have suffered for a long time from a lot of instability, a lot of unknowns.”

Increased automation, internationlization and professionalism from ICANN will serve this goal, he said.

ICANN’s compliance department, he added, should “not be the policeman for the industry but be customer service for the registrants”, he said.

Six more gTLD contracts signed

Kevin Murphy, October 28, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN signed six more new gTLD Registry Agreements on Friday, bringing the week’s total to eight.

Donuts added .cab, .computer and .support to its rapidly expanding portfolio of generics, while its partner United TLD (Demand Media) added .dance.

GMO Registry, which had teething troubles during Initial Evaluation before switching back-end providers, signed a contract for the Japanese geographic .nagoya.

Finally, Spanish clothing company Punto Fa, S.L., trading as MANGO, got the dot-brand .mango.

ICANN now has 72 new gTLD RAs, the first four of which have gone live.

ICANN signs contracts for .wang and .democrat

Kevin Murphy, October 25, 2013, Domain Registries

The new gTLD applicants behind .wang and .democract are the latest to sign Registry Agreements with ICANN.

Demand Media’s United TLD is behind .democrat, while .wang was applied for by small Chinese portfolio applicant Zodiac Holdings. Both were uncontested applications.

Both are to be open gTLDs.

For .democrat, Demand expects names to be registered by anyone who identifies themselves as a democrat. There were no objections, and to the best of my knowledge no explicit support, from “Democrat” parties

.wang is a weird one.

It’s the Latin-script transliteration of the Chinese character 网, which means “net”. Zodiac couldn’t apply for the Chinese because it’s a single character, which are not yet allowed under ICANN rules.

I understand that 网 is often used by Chinese speakers to mean “network” or “website”, but I don’t know how commonly the ASCII “wang” is used instead. Seems like a stretch.

It also of course is a common Chinese surname and a juvenile euphemism for “penis”.