US reopens IANA contract re-bid

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s key contract with the US government is open for proposals again, a month after ICANN was told its first bid wasn’t up to the expected standards.

The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration yesterday posted a revised request for proposals, looking for a new IANA contractor.

The IANA contract is what gives ICANN its operational powers over the domain name system root database.

Based on a quick comparison of the new RFP with the old, there have been few notable, substantial changes, giving little indication of why ICANN’s previous response fell short.

The RFP has a strong emphasis on accountability, transparency, separation of ICANN/IANA powers, conflicts of interest and the “global public interest”, as before.

While many of the requirements have been edited, clarified or shifted around, I haven’t been able to spot any major additions or subtractions.

The RFP now envisages a contract running from October 1, 2012 until September 30, 2015, with two two-year renewal options, bringing the expiry date to September 30, 2019.

The deadline for responses is May 31.

The current contract had been due to expire at the end of March but the NTIA unexpected extended it by six months just before ICANN’s meeting in Costa Rica kicked off last month.

The NTIA said it canceled the first RFP “because we received no proposals that met the requirements” but neither it nor ICANN has yet provided any specifics.

Over a month ago, at an ICANN press conference in Costa Rica, CEO Rod Beckstrom said: “We were invited to have a debriefing with [the NTIA] to learn more about this. Following that discussion we will share any information we are allowed to share.”

Since then, no additional information has been forthcoming.

The new RFP can be read here. For comparison, the old version can be downloaded here.

New gTLD filing deadline delayed again

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2012, Domain Registrars

It looks like new gTLD applicants are in for more delays after ICANN announced that it will not reopen its TLD Application System tomorrow as planned.

In a statement tonight, chief operating officer Akram Atallah said that the recently discovered data leakage vulnerability has been fixed, but the fix is still being tested.

We believe that we have fixed the glitch, and we are testing it to make sure.

ICANN is committed to reopening the application system as soon as we can confirm that the problem has been resolved and we have had proper time for testing.

We also want to inform all applicants, before we reopen, whether they have been affected by the glitch. We are still gathering information so we can do that.

Accordingly, the application system will not reopen tomorrow.

ICANN shut down TAS last Thursday, just 12 hours before the new gTLD application filing deadline, after discovering a persistent bug that allowed some applicants to see the names of files uploaded by other applicants.

It had planned to open TAS again tomorrow and close it on Friday. However, that’s looking increasingly unlikely.

Atallah said that ICANN “will provide an update on the timing of the reopening no later than Friday, 20 April at 23.59 UTC.”

While ICANN said yesterday that it was still targeting April 30 for its Big Reveal event, subject to change, that’s now looking like an ambitious goal.

ICANN will alert gTLD security bug victims

Kevin Murphy, April 16, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN plans to inform each new top-level domain applicant whether they were affected by the security vulnerability in its TLD Application System, according to its latest update.

The organization has also confirmed that it is still targeting April 30 for the Big Reveal day, when it publishes (deliberately) the gTLDs being applied for and the names of the applicants.

This morning’s TAS status update, penned by chief operating officer Akram Atallah, does not add much that we did not already know about the data leakage bug. It states:

An intensive review has produced no evidence that any data beyond the file names and user names could be accessed by other users.

We are currently reviewing the data to confirm which applicants were affected. As soon as the data is confirmed, we will inform all applicants whether they were affected.

ICANN staff and outside consultants have been working all weekend to figure out what went wrong, who it affected, and how it can be fixed.

The organization still intends to announce tonight whether it has fixed the problem to the point where it’s happy to reopen TAS to registered users tomorrow. It’s also sticking to is Friday extended submission deadline.

MyTLD has spare TAS accounts for new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, April 15, 2012, Domain Registries

The new gTLD consultancy MyTLD has some ICANN TLD Application System slots going begging.

If for some reason you need to file a gTLD application and you haven’t already registered in TAS, this is what MyTLD says it is now offering:

(i) gTLD application writing and submission (ii) TAS account for the gTLD application (iii) Newly formed company corresponding to the TAS account

The company is marketing it as a bundled service.

MyTLD is most closely associated with the most prominent .music application. It’s run by Music.us owner Constantine Roussos and former ICANN internationalized domain name expert Tina Dam.

The offer is fleshed out a bit more on MyTLD’s blog.

I hear the company was shopping these TAS slots around privately prior to April 12 too, so I don’t think that it is an effort to capitalize on the security-related delays ICANN is currently experiencing.

However, one has to ask why the offer is only being publicized after the original official deadline for new gTLD applications has already passed.

TAS is expected to re-open for business on Tuesday, and close on Friday.

ICANN reopens defensive registration debate

Kevin Murphy, April 13, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors wants more policy work done on the problem of defensive domain name registrations.

In a resolution passed at a meeting on Tuesday, the board’s newly created New gTLD Program Committee, made up exclusively of non-conflicted directors, said it:

directs staff to provide a briefing paper on the topic of defensive registrations at the second level and requests the GNSO to consider whether additional work on defensive registrations at the second level should be undertaken

The decision was made following the debate about “defensive” gTLD applications ICANN opened up in February, prompted by a letter from US Department of Commerce assistant secretary Larry Strickling.

That in turn followed the two Congressional hearings in December, lobbied for and won by the Association of National Advertisers and its Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight.

So this week’s decision is a pretty big win for the intellectual property lobby. It’s managed to keep the issue of stronger second-level trademark protection in new gTLDs alive despite ICANN essentially putting it to bed when it approved the new gTLD program last June.

The GNSO could of course decide that no further work needs to be done, so the champagne corks should probably stay in place for the time being.

At the same meeting on Tuesday, the ICANN board committee voted to disregard the GNSO Council’s recent decision to grand extra protections to the International Olympic Committee, Red Cross and Red Crescent movements. The rationale for this decision has not yet been published.