Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

A little iCal tool that might make your ICANN life a little easier

Kevin Murphy, May 27, 2013, Domain Services

Yo Dawg!I’ve created a little free service that might make it a little easier for regular participants in ICANN public comment periods to keep track of deadlines.

It’s basically an iCal feed that should automatically update your online calendar whenever a new comment period is created or extended by ICANN.

This is the link: http://domainincite.com/pro/publiccommentcalendar.php

If you click it you’ll see it attempts to download a .ics (iCal) file to your computer. The contents are automatically created, daily, based on whatever deadlines ICANN has published on its web site.

If you use Google Calendar (as I do) you can add the calendar to your existing calendars by clicking the “Other calendars” drop-down in the Google Calendar sidebar, then “Add by URL”.

My Apple-using guinea pigs tell me that the same functionality is possible with the Mac’s built in Calendar software, by clicking on “File” and “New Calendar Subscription”.

It seems to work with Yahoo! Calendar too.

Subscribing should immediately add the 30-odd current public comment deadlines to your calendar, automatically adjusted to your time zone.

Google Calendar screenshotWith Google Calendar, the entries are easy enough to remove if you don’t like what you see. I expect the same is true in other software.

If it’s working properly, updates should be automatically reflected in your calendar on a daily basis.

It hasn’t been tested on any other platforms yet, but iCal seems to be a widely-embraced technical standard so I can’t see why it won’t work everywhere.

As you may be able to tell, I’m providing this service for free very much “as is”. If ICANN changes the layout of it its web site or my code is dodgy, it will stop working properly.

In other words, if it breaks and you miss a deadline, don’t blame me.

But if it does work and it makes keeping track of things a little simpler, feel free to buy me a pint.

Bug reports, suggestions and grovelling thanks to the usual address.

Two more new gTLD bids bite the dust

ICANN appears to have formally killed off two new gTLD applications that had asked for subsidized application fees.

The bids for .idn and .ummah both failed to meet the criteria of ICANN’s Applicant Support Program back in March, but were only officially marked as dead over the weekend.

The .ummah application was voluntarily withdrawn by Ummah Digital, while the applicant for .idn (an Indian company called NameShop) unsuccessfully fought the decision.

Nevertheless, NameShop has now been flagged on ICANN’s site with “Did not meet all criteria” for the Applicant Support Program.

We’re taking this as a signal it’s been officially kicked out of the current application round and have updated the DI PRO database accordingly.

As well as failing applicant support, NameShop would have failed the Geographic Names component of its Initial Evaluation because IDN is the reserved three-letter country code for Indonesia.

NameShop had attempted to change its application from .idn to .internet — something that would no doubt have cause a deal of consternation among potential objectors and other applicants.

By flunking the company on the applicant support criteria, ICANN has luckily avoided having to make that difficult call.

Is the .home new gTLD doomed? ICANN poses study of security risks

Kevin Murphy, May 22, 2013, Domain Tech

ICANN has set up a study into whether certain applied-for new gTLD strings pose a security risk to the internet, admitting that some gTLDs may be rejected as a result.

Its board of directors on Saturday approved new research into the risk of new gTLD clashes with “internal name certificates”, saying that the results could kill off some gTLD applications.

In its rationale, the board stated:

it is possible that study might uncover risks that result in the requirement to place special safeguards for gTLDs that have conflicts. It is also possible that some new gTLDs may not be eligible for delegation.

Internal name certificates are the same digital certificates used in secure, web-based SSL transactions, but assigned to domain names in private, non-standard namespaces.

Many companies have long used non-existent TLDs such as .corp, .mail and .home on their private networks and quite often they obtain SSL certs from the usual certificate authorities in order to enable encryption between corporate resources and their internal users.

The problem is that browsers and other applications on laptops and other mobile devices can attempt to access these private namespaces from anywhere, not only from the local network.

If ICANN should set these TLD strings live in the authoritative DNS root, registrants of clashing domain names might be able to hijack traffic intended for secure resources and, for example, steal passwords.

That’s obviously a worry, but it’s one that did not occur to ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee until late last year, when it immediately sought out the help of the CA/Browser Forum.

It turned out the the CA/Browser forum, an alliance of certificate authorities and browser makers, was already on the case. It has put in new rules that state certificates issued to private TLDs that match new gTLDs will be revoked 120 days after ICANN signs a contract with the new gTLD registry.

But it’s still not entirely clear whether this will sufficiently mitigate risk. Not every CA is a member of the Forum, and some enterprises might find 120 day revocation windows challenging to work with.

Verisign recently highlight the internal certificate problem, along with many other potential risks, in an open letter to ICANN.

But both ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and the chair of SSAC, Patrick Falstrom, have said that the potential security problems are already being addressed and not a reason to delay new gTLDs.

The latest board resolution appears to modify that position.

The board has now asked CEO Fadi Chehade and SSAC to “consider the potential security impacts of applied-for new-gTLD strings in relation to this usage.”

The Root Server Stability Advisory Committee and the CA/Browser Forum will also be tapped for data.

While the study will, one assumes, not be limited to any specific applied-for gTLD strings, it’s well known that some strings are more risky than others.

The root server operators already receive vast amounts of erroneous DNS traffic looking for .home and .corp, for example. If any gTLD applications are at risk, it’s those.

There are 10 remaining applications for .home and five for .corp.

Blow to domainers as Arab center approved to settle cybersquatting disputes

Kevin Murphy, May 22, 2013, Domain Services

ICANN has approved a new UDRP resolution provider, the first to be based in the Arab region, despite the objections of domainers.

The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution will now be able to service UDRP complaints. But it won’t be bound to an ICANN contract, as had been demanded by the Internet Commerce Association and others.

The ACDR was approved by the ICANN board last week, almost three years after it originally applied for the privilege.

The board said in its rationale that the move would be good for geographic diversity and that its rigorous community review process highlighted community accountability.

On the issue of UDRP provider contracts, it merely noted:

commenters suggested that ICANN develop contracts with each of its UDRP providers as a means to require uniformity among providers. Contracts have never been required of UDRP providers.

the proposal now includes an affirmative recognition that if ICANN imposes further requirements on providers, the ACDR will follow those requirements

The ACDR will come as a knock to the ICA, which recently celebrated the fact that ICANN intends to have formal contracts with providers of Uniform Rapid Suspension services.

No Las Vegas, alas. ICANN picks LA for 2014 meeting

Kevin Murphy, May 22, 2013, Gossip

ICANN has picked Los Angeles for the third of its three 2014 public meetings.

The decision was approved by its board of directors at its retreat in Amsterdam last week.

As you may know, ICANN’s meeting schedule cycles through its five geographic regions, and North America’s next turn comes next year, picking up hopes that it might finally choose Las Vegas.

Alas, we get LA instead.

According to the board’s resolution, the cost of holding a meeting in LA should come in a couple hundred grand below the price of holding it elsewhere, presumably due to reduced travel expenses.

It will be the fourth time ICANN has gathered community members in its home town, but the first time since 2007. Back when ICANN did four meetings a year, LA was the home of its annual general meetings.

Recent North American meetings have been held in Toronto, San Francisco and Puerto Rico. The Mexico City meeting in 2009 counts as Latin America on ICANN’s map of the world.

Singapore and London have already been named at 2014 venues for Asia and Europe respectively.