Up to 9.8 million new gTLD domain names are to get a get-out-of-jail card, with the publication yesterday of ICANN’s plan to mitigate the risk of damaging name collisions.
As a loyal DI reader, the details of the plan will not come as a great surprise. It was developed by JAS Global Advisors and previewed in a guest post by CEO Jeff Schmidt in January
Name collisions are scenarios where a TLD delegated by ICANN to the public DNS matches a TLD that one or more organizations already uses on their internal networks.
Verisign, in what many view as protectionist propaganda, has been arguing that name collisions could cause widespread technical and economic damage and even a risk to life.
Things might stop working and secret data might leak out of corporate networks, Verisign warns.
JAS’ proposed solution, which ICANN has opened for public comment, is quite clever, I think.
Called “controlled interruption”, it will see new gTLD registries being asked to wildcard their entire second level of their TLDs to point to the IP address 127.0.53.53.
If there’s a name collision on example.corp the company using that TLD on its network will notice unusual behavior and will have an opportunity to fix the problem.
Importantly, no data apart from the DNS look-up will leak out of their networks — the 127/8 IP address block is reserved by various standards for local uses only.
The registry will essentially bounce the DNS request back to the network making the request. If that behavior causes problems, the network administrator will presumably check her logs, notice the odd IP address, and Google it for further information.
Today, she’ll find a Slashdot article about the name collisions plan, which should put the admin on the road to figuring out the problem and fixing her network. In future, maybe ICANN will rank for the term.
Registries would be able to choose whether to wildcard their whole TLD or to only point to 127.0.53.53 those second-level names currently on their collisions block lists.
In either case, the redirection would only last for the first 120 days after delegation.
That’s the same duration as the quiet period ICANN already imposes on new delegations, during which only “nic.” may resolve.
After the 120 days are up, the name collisions issue would be considered permanently closed for that TLD.
If this goes ahead, the plan will allow registries to unblock as many as 9.8 million domain names representing 6.8 million unique second-level labels, according to DI PRO collisions database.
It could also put an end to the argument about whether name collisions really were a significant problem (160,000 new gTLD names are already live and we haven’t heard any reports of collisions yet).
Pointing to the fact that new TLDs, some of which showed evidence of collisions, were getting delegated rather regularly before the current new gTLD round, JAS said in its report:
We do not find that the addition of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) fundamentally or significantly increases or changes the risks associated with DNS namespace collisions. The modalities, risks, and etiologies of the inevitable DNS namespace collisions in new TLD namespaces will resemble the collisions that already occur routinely in the other parts of the DNS.
Collisions in all TLDs and at all levels within the global Internet DNS namespace have the ability to expose potentially serious security and availability problems and deserve serious attention.
JAS calls its plan “a conservative buffer between potential legacy usage of a TLD and the new usage”.
As wildcarding is currently prohibited by ICANN’s standard Registry Agreement (ironically, to prevent a repeat of Verisign’s Site Finder) an amendment is going to be needed, as the JAS plan acknowledges.
The drawback of the plan is that if an organization is relying on a colliding internal TLD, whatever systems use that TLD could break under the plan. The 127/8 redirection is a way to help them resolve the breakage, not always to prevent it happening at all.
For new gTLD registries it’s pretty good news, however. There are many thousands of potentially valuable premium names blocked under the current regime that would be made available for sale.
If you’re an applicant for .mail, however, it’s a different story. The JAS report says .mail should be reserved forever, putting it in the same category as .home and .corp:
the use of .corp and .home for internal namespaces/networks is so overwhelming that the inertia created by such a large “installed base” and prevalent use is not likely reversible. We also note that RFC 6762 suggests that .corp and .home are safe for use on internal networks.
Like .corp and .home, the TLD .mail also exhibits prevalent, widespread use at a level materially greater than all other applied-for TLDs. Our research found that .mail has been hardcoded into a number of installations, provided in a number of example configuration scripts/defaults, and has a large global “installed base” that is likely to have significant inertia comparable to .corp and .home. As such, we believe .mail’s prevalent internal use is also likely irreversible and recommend reservation similar to .corp and .home.
In other words, .mail is dead and the five remaining applicants for the string are probably going to be forced to withdraw through no fault of their own. Should these companies get a full refund from ICANN?
It seems the new gTLD .voting will not be restricted to Germans after all.
We reported earlier today that .voting registry Valuetainment had submitted a registration policy that required all registrants to have a presence in Germany.
The language used in the policy was identical, we later discovered, to that found in the equivalent policy for .ruhr, a German geographic gTLD operated by a different registry.
But Thomas Rickert of the German law firm Schollmeyer & Rickert, which has both .voting and .ruhr registries as clients, just called to let us know that the policy as submitted to ICANN was a mistake.
It seems there will be no local presence requirement for .voting after all.
Valuetainment will be submitting a revised policy to ICANN without the error. The German-language version of the policy does not contain the error, Rickert said.
Rickert said he’d like it to be known that the registry was blameless in this instance.
The Arab Center for Dispute Resolution has gone live as the fifth approved provider of UDRP dispute resolution services.
The Jordan-based outfit, which says it has offices in “all Arab countries”, says it “is uniquely positioned to address domain name issues pertinent to the region, while maintaining an international, multicultural disposition to case settlement.”
The organization does not appear to be competing hard on price. A single-domain case will set trademark owners back a minimum of $1,500 ($1,000 to the panel, $500 to ACDR), which is the same as market leader WIPO.
It’s actually a little more expensive than WIPO — a five-domain case will cost $1,700 compared to WIPO’s $1,500.
Uniregistry and Donuts have settled at least five new gTLD contention sets this week, raising the question of whether Uniregistry has reversed its objection to private auctions.
I think it has.
In five of the six head-to-head contention sets between the two companies, Donuts has won the rights to .furniture, .auction and .gratis, and Uniregistry has won .audio and .juegos.
The losing company has already withdrawn their applications in all five cases.
I gather that a deal was made, but Uniregistry won’t say whether it was via a private auction or not and I’ve not yet had a reply to a request for comment from Donuts.
But Uniregistry, which has previously spoken out against the private auction concept — saying it raises antitrust concerns — declined to confirm or deny whether these five contests were resolved by auction.
“We’re grateful to have found a way through the impasse and resolved the contention,” was all Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling would say.
Applicant Auction’s project director Sheel Mohnot confirmed that a new gTLD auction took place this week but said he could not disclose the participants or the strings.
To the best of my knowledge, that’s a new line — the auctioneer has always kept quiet about sales prices in the past, but has always revealed which companies were involved.
So has Uniregistry changed its mind about the legality of private new gTLD auctions? My guess is: “Yes.”
The only remaining string where the two companies are competing in a two-horse race is .shopping, according to the DI PRO database, but that’s subject to some weird string similarity nonsense and probably not suitable for a private auction yet.
Registrars based in the European Union are becoming increasingly disgruntled by what they see as ICANN dragging its feet over registrant privacy rules.
Some are even refusing to sign the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement until they receive formal assurances that ICANN won’t force them to break their local privacy laws.
The 2013 RAA, which is required if a registrar wants to sell new gTLD domains, requires registrars to keep hold of registrant data for two years after their registrations expire.
Several European authorities have said that this would be illegal under EU privacy directives, and ICANN has agreed to allow registrars in the EU to opt out of the relevant provisions.
Today, Luxembourgish registrar EuroDNS said it asked for a waiver of the data retention clauses on December 2, but has not heard back from ICANN over two months later.
The company had provided ICANN with the written legal opinion of Luxembourg’s Data Protection Agency
In a snippy letter (pdf) to ICANN, EuroDNS CEO Lutz Berneke wrote:
Although we understand that your legal department is solely composed of lawyers educated in US laws, a mere translation of the written guidance supporting our request should confirm our claim and allow ICANN to make its preliminary determination.
EuroDNS has actually signed the 2013 RAA, but says it will not abide by the provisions it has been told would be illegal locally.
Elsewhere in Europe, Ireland’s Blacknight Solutions, said two weeks ago that it had requested its waiver September 17 and had not yet received a pass from ICANN.
“Why is it my problem that ICANN doesn’t understand EU law? Why should our business be impacted negatively due to ICANN’s inability to listen?” CEO Michele Neylon blogged. “[W]hile this entire farce plays out we are unable to offer new top level domains to our clients.”
But while Blacknight is still on the old 2009 RAA, other European registrars seem to have signed the 2013 version some time ago, and are already selling quite a lot of new gTLD domains.
Germany’s United-Domains, for example, appears to be the third-largest new gTLD registrar, if name server records are anything to go by, with the UK’s 123-Reg also in the top ten.
That comment period is not scheduled to end until February 27, however, so it seems registrars agitated about foot-dragging have a while to wait yet before they get what they want.