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NameCheap gets contract breach notice

ICANN has sent a formal breach notice to top ten registrar NameCheap, saying the company failed to comply with a mandatory audit.

ICANN also claims in the notice (pdf) that the company has failed to keep its web site up to date with pricing information required by policies.

NameCheap, which says it has over three million domains under management, may be the largest registrar to get to the formal, published breach notice stage of the ICANN compliance process.

But it should be noted that while the company is accredited and must comply with its Registrar Accreditation Agreement, it does almost all of its business as an eNom reseller.

Just a handful of domain names are registered under NameCheap’s own IANA number.

Glitch takes out ICANN’s zone file service

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2014, Domain Services

A bug which gave elevated privileges to new gTLD registries has taken out ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service for the best part of a day.

CZDS is the central clearinghouse for zone file data access requests. All new gTLD registries must participate. DI uses the data provided via the service to calculate registration numbers.

The service was turned off yesterday after registries noticed that they were able to view and approve pending requests made to rival registries and informed ICANN.

The site has been “currently undergoing maintenance” since at least 0200 UTC today. The bug was present from at least 2100 on Monday night, which was when I first heard about it.

ICANN tells me the move to take down the site yesterday was made out of “an abundance of caution” and that its techies are looking at the issue right now.

Talking to a few registries, it seems they were given super-user privileges.

They were able to review requests for zone file access made by users like DI to any new gTLD registry. They would have been able to approve such requests, registries tell me.

The contact information of the requesting party was also visible, they tell me.

I think in most cases this isn’t a big deal. I assume most CZDS users just blanket-request every file from every gTLD registry, but there could hypothetically be edge cases where a sensitive request was exposed.

For the avoidance of confusion, the bug would not have given anyone the ability to edit any zone files. CZDS is just a publishing clearinghouse, it has no functional role in the DNS.

Two other ICANN sites, the Global Domains Division portal and parts of MyICANN, both of which run on the Force.com platform, also currently appear to be down for maintenance, but it’s not currently clear if these issues are related.

Registrant complains to ICANN over Uniregistry’s premium names

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, Domain Registries

A would-be new gTLD registrant has appealed to ICANN over the domain name moviestar.photo, which she was unable to register because Uniregistry had reserved it as a premium name.

Danielle Watson filed a formal Request for Reconsideration (pdf) with ICANN last week, in the mistaken belief that ICANN had placed the domain she wanted on one of its block-lists.

She described her predicament thus:

a. Website Name Registration: I purchased one of the new gTLD domain names ending in .photo from 101domain.com on April 2, 2014. Moviestar.photo

b. I received an email on April 14, 2014 stating that ICANN kept this name from being registered in my name, and I would receive a refund in which I did.

c. I cannot understand why this name is being withheld, and being put into your reserve list.

d. I take very old Movie Stars photos and colorize them and put old fashioned frames around them and sell them at craft fairs locally. This name would have been a perfect fit for my use and sales. Please reconsider my request to be reconsidered and the name moviestar.photo reinstated/registered in my name with 101domain.com

Correspondence from 101domain provided by Watson (pdf) does not mention ICANN, so I’m not sure how she came to the conclusion that ICANN was to blame.

I fear she has targeted ICANN incorrectly.

The DI PRO name collisions database shows that the string “moviestar” has been blocked by ICANN’s policy on collisions in 15 new gTLDs, but Uniregistry’s .photo is not one of them.

Whois records show that moviestar.photo is in fact registered to North Sound Names. That’s the name of the Uniregistry affiliate currently in control of tens of thousands of Uniregistry premium names.

The RfR is not the venue for this kind of complaint and it’s likely to be dismissed for that reason. There’s not much ICANN can do about it.

Perhaps Watson would have better luck writing a begging letter to Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling, who has indicated his willingness to allocate premium names to deserving users.

Belgium comes out against Donuts’ .spa bid

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2014, Domain Policy

Belgium wants Donuts’ application for .spa rejected after the new gTLD applicant declined to sign a deal with the city of Spa.

In a March 20 letter to ICANN, published today, the Belgian deputy prime minister Johan Vande Lanotte said “negotiations between the stakeholders are closed”, adding that Belgium:

requests the Board of Directors of the ICANN to delegate the new “.spa” gTLD to the candidate who has a formal agreement with the local authorities of Spa and in respect of the public interest.

That’s the other applicant in the two-horse .spa race, Asia Spa and Wellness Promotion Council, which has promised to earmark up to 25% of its European profits to spa-related uses in the environs of Spa.

The letter was sent a week before the Governmental Advisory Committee issued its Singapore communique, which noncommittally noted that it “welcomes” the agreement between Spa and ASWPC.

ICANN may or may not be currently in receipt of firm, consensus GAC advice to accept or reject either of the remaining .spa applications.

In Beijing a year ago, the GAC put .spa on a list of gTLD strings where “further GAC consideration may be warranted” and asked ICANN to “not proceed beyond Initial Evaluation”.

At the Durban and Buenos Aires meetings last year the GAC said ICANN should not “proceed beyond initial evaluation until the agreements between the relevant parties are reached.”

Given that Donuts and Spa evidently cannot come to an agreement, ICANN presumably remains advised to keep one or both .spa applications on hold. The advice is pretty vague.

The string “spa” is not a geographic name within the rules of the new gTLD program. Donuts argues that it’s too generic nowadays to belong just to Spa.

Geo gTLDs catch a break with new launch rules

Kevin Murphy, April 11, 2014, Domain Policy

New gTLDs with a geographic or community focus have won concessions from ICANN under new rules published today.

All new gTLD registries will be able to allocate names to public authorities, matching for example district names or landmarks, even if those names match trademarks in the Trademark Clearinghouse.

The change came in the final version of the Qualified Launch Program guidelines, which spells out how new registries are able to allocate up to 100 names, pre-sunrise, to anchor tenants.

The new language related to public authorities reads says that any registry, may give names to any “international, national, regional, local or municipal governmental authority”.

Such domains must match “the name of a building, park, monument, airport or other public place… region, city, street, district or other geographic area” operated by the authority, the name or acronym of the authority itself, or the name of one of its public services.

The carve-out would allow (to use a Minds + Machines example), the .london registry to give thepolice.london to the Metropolitan Police, even if the Sting-fronted band The Police had a matching mark in the TMCH.

The newly amended rules apply to all new gTLDs, not only those that were classified as “geographic” under ICANN’s rules. So they would apply to .scot, for example, even though it’s not strictly a geographic name.

But the QLP still would prevent registries allocating a TMCH-listed string to anyone prior to their sunrise period concluding, unless the entity getting the name also owned the TMCH listing.

The new QLP rules are available here.