New gTLD registry XYZ.com has said it will not preemptively censor domain names based on the wishes of the Chinese government.
Over the last couple of days, CEO Daniel Negari has sought to “clarify” its plans to block and suspend domain names based on Chinese government requests.
It follows XYZ’s Registry Services Evaluation Request for a gateway service in the country, first reported by DI and subsequently picked up by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a Wall Street Journal columnist, Fortune magazine and others.
The clarifications offered up by XYZ probably did more to confuse matters.
A blog post on Wednesday said that XYZ will not reserve any .xyz domain names from being registered, except those ICANN makes all new gTLD registries reserve.
Subsequent comments from Negari stated that XYZ will, as the RSEP stated, prevent names that have been banned in China from being registered.
However, there’s one significant difference.
Now, the registry is saying that it will only put those bans in place for domain names that have been specifically banned by the Chinese government when the name had already been registered by a Chinese registrant.
So, if I understand correctly, it would not preemptively ban anyone anywhere from registering [banned term].xyz.
However, if [banned term].xyz was registered to a Chinese resident and the Chinese government told the registry to suspend it, it would be suspended and nobody would be able to re-register it anywhere in the world.
Negari said in a blog comment yesterday:
if we receive a Chinese legal order tomorrow (before the gateway has launched) which requires disabling a domain name registered in China and properly under Chinese jurisdiction, then it will be disabled at the registry level, and not by the gateway. When the gateway launches the name will continue to be unavailable, and the gateway will not implement the action on a localized basis only in China. The normal registry system would continue to be the only system used to resolve the name globally. Again — the specific stability concern ICANN had was that we would use the Chinese gateway to make .xyz names resolve differently, depending on what country you are in. I completely agree that our [RSEP] re-draft to address that concern came out in a way that can be read in a way that we sincerely did not intend.
So there is a list of preemptively banned .xyz, .college, .rent, .security and .protection domains, compiled by XYZ from individual Chinese government requests targeting names registered to Chinese registrants.
Negari said in an email to DI yesterday:
To clarify the statement “XYZ will reserve domains,” we meant that XYZ will takedown domains in order to comply with “applicable law.” Unfortunately, the inaccuracies in your post caused people to believe that we were allowing the Chinese government to control what names could be registered or how they could be used by people outside of China. The idea that XYZ is going to impose Chinese law and prevent people outside of China from registering certain domain names is simply incorrect and not true. To be 100% clear, there is no “banned list.”
That was the first time anyone connected with XYZ had complained about the October 12 post, other than since-deleted tweets that corrected the size of the list from 40,000 domains to 12,000.
The RSEP (pdf) that causes all this kerfuffle has not been amended. It still says:
XYZ will reserve names prohibited for registration by the Chinese government at the registry level internationally, so the Gateway itself will not need to be used to block the registration of of any names. Therefore, a registrant in China will be able to register the same domain names as anyone else in the world.
This fairly unambiguous statement is what XYZ says was “misinterpreted” by DI (and everyone else who read it).
However, it’s not just a couple of sentences taken out of context. The context also suggests preemptive banning of domains.
The very next sentence states:
When the Gateway is initially implemented we will not run into a problem whereby a Chinese registrant has already registered a name prohibited for registration by the Chinese government because Chinese registrars are already enforcing a prohibition on the registration of names that are in violation of Chinese law.
This states that Chinese residents are already being preemptively banned, by Chinese registrars, from registering domains deemed illegal in China.
The next few paragraphs of the RSEP deal with post-registration scenarios of domains being banned, clearly delineated from the paragraph dealing with pre-registration scenarios.
In his blog post, Negari said the RSEP “addressed the proactive abuse mitigation we will take to shut down phishing, pharming, malware, and other abuse in China”.
I can’t believe this is true. The consequence would be that if China sent XYZ a take-down notice about a malware or phishing site registered to a non-Chinese registrant, XYZ would simply ignore it.
Regardless, the takeaway today is that XYZ is now saying that it will not ban a domain before it has been registered, unless that domain has previously been registered by a Chinese resident and subsequently specifically banned by the Chinese government.
The registry says this is no different to how it would treat take-down notices issued by, for example, a US court. It’s part of its contractual obligation to abide by “applicable law”, it says.
Whether this is a policy U-turn or a case of an erroneous RSEP being submitted… frankly I don’t want to get into that debate.
Disclosure: during the course of researching this story, I registered .xyz domains matching (as far as this monoglot can tell) the Chinese words for “democracy”, “human rights”, “porn” and possibly “Tiananmen Square”. I have no idea if they have value and have no plans to develop them into web sites.
Top Level Spectrum, the new gTLD registry behind .feedback, plans to
give sell domains matching 5,000 of the world’s top brands to a third party that does not own the trademarks.
That’s one novel element of a .feedback business model that is guaranteed to drive the intellectual property community crazy in much the same way as .sucks did earlier this year.
The other piece of ‘innovation’ will see all .feedback domains — including the 5,000 brands — point by default to a hosted service that facilitates comment and criticism.
If you agree to use the hosted service with your domain, the domain and service combined will cost a minimum of just $20 per year.
However, if you want to turn off the hosted service and use your .feedback like a regular domain, pointing to the web site of your choice, the price will ratchet up to $50 a month, or $620 a year.
Those are the wholesale prices. Both services will be offered through registrars, where some markup is to be expected.
The hosted service is being offered by Feedback SAAS LLC, a company that, judging by its web site, appears to share ownership with Top Level Spectrum, though Westerdal says the two firms have different employees.
It’s not dissimilar to the model employed by .tel, where name servers by default point to a registry-hosted service.
Unlike .tel, .feedback registrants will be able to opt out of using the SAAS service and point their domains to whatever name servers they want.
Westerdal told DI that .feedback is in the process of making a deal with a “third party” he could not yet name to have 5,000 branded .feedback domains deployed during the Early Access Period of the .feedback launch. That’s scheduled to start January 6.
“We are striking a deal to get feedback sites out there. We want everything to have feedback,” he said. “We are signing an agreement to get the ball rolling by doing a founders program to get names out there. Your favorite shoe, your pizza place, your everything.”
“The sites are all geared towards free speech and giving reviews,” he said. He said:
No trademark infringement will occur though, the sites are all geared towards free speech and giving reviews. Confusing the public that the brand is running the site will not happen, each site has a disclaimer and makes it clear the brand is not running the site.
Asked whether we were talking about a genuine third party or a shell set up by the registry, he said: “A real third party. I am not playing games.”
He said the higher pricing for the naked domain registration is intended to discourage companies from turning off the domains matching their brands.
The whole point of .feedback is to solicit feedback.
The as-yet unspecified third-party taking possession of the 5,000 brand names would not be prevented from selling the domains to the matching brand owner, or to any third parties, he said, though he would not be in favor of such a move.
He said that $20 a year to run a configurable .feedback site, with moderator privileges, is a “great deal” compared to the $300-a-month service he said consumer review site Yelp offers.
The SAAS service will make additional revenue by selling added features, suitable for enterprises, he said.
.feedback went into its sunrise period last week with a $2,000 wholesale fee — the same high price that attracted criticism for .sucks.
The original Registry Service Evaluation Process for the .feedback service hit ICANN over a year ago (pdf).
I missed it then. Sorry.
I noticed it today after corporate registrar MarkMonitor blogged about it.
Matt Serlin, VP of MarkMonitor, who blogged his opinion on .feedback’s strategy earlier today, said in an email that the .feedback strategy was “more objectionable” than he had thought, and that “[W]e would most likely look to raise to ICANN if that is his stated intent.”
Apple’s .apple new gTLD was delegated today.
It’s going to be a strict dot-brand gTLD, in which only Apple can register domain names, but could wind up being highly influential.
While .apple now appears in the DNS root zone, no second-level names (not even nic.apple) are yet resolving.
Should Apple actually use its new TLD in a prominent way, it would be good news for the visibility of new gTLDs internationally.
The company has sold hundreds of millions of devices over the last decade or so.
But the company has a spotty history of paying attention to domain names, regularly launching products without first securing matching domain names.
It did recently adopt a .news domain name for one of its apps, however.
.apple could wind up being purely defensive, at least in the near term.
Apple’s 2012 application to ICANN describes its plans in literally one sentence, repeated five times:
Apple seeks to obtain the new .apple gTLD in order to provide consumers with another opportunity to learn about Apple, and its products and services.
Apple division Beats Electronics, which makes headphones, also had its dot-brand, .beats, delegated today.
The upcoming auction for .shop and .shopping new gTLDs is weird, but in a different way to which I reported on Friday.
The actual rules, which are pretty complicated, mean that one applicant could win a gTLD auction without spending a single penny.
The nine applicants for .shop and the two applicants for .shopping are not necessarily all fighting it out to be a single victor, which is what I originally reported.
Rather, it seems to be certain that both .shop and .shopping will wind up being delegated.
The ICANN rules about indirect contention are not well-documented, as far as I can tell.
When I originally reported on the rules exactly two years ago today, I thought an animated GIF of a man’s head exploding was an appropriate way to end the story.
In the .shop/.shopping case, it seems that all 11 applications — nine for .shop and two for .shopping — will be lumped into the same auction.
Which applicant drops out first will determine whether both strings get delegated or only one.
Uniregistry and Donuts have applied for .shopping, but only Donuts’ application is in contention with Commercial Connect’s .shop application (due to a String Confusion Objection).
As Donuts has applied for both .shop and .shopping, it will be submitting separate bids for each application during the auction.
The auction could play out in one of three general ways.
Commercial Connect drops out. If Commercial Connect finds the .shop auction getting too rich for it and drops out, the .shopping contention set will immediately become an entirely separate auction between Uniregistry and Donuts. In this scenario, both .shop and .shopping get to become real gTLDs.
Donuts drops its .shopping bid. If Donuts drops its bid for .shopping, Uniregistry is no longer in indirect contention with Commercial Connect’s .shop application, so it gets .shopping for free.
Commercial Connect wins .shop. If Commercial Connect prevails in .shop, that means Donuts has withdrawn from the .shopping auction and Uniregistry wins.
It’s complicated, and doesn’t make a lot of logical sense, but it seems them’s the rules.
It could have been even more complex. Until recently, Amazon’s application for .通販 was also in indirect contention with .shop.
Thanks to Rubens Kuhl of Nic.br for pointing out the error.
The new gTLDs .shop, .shopping, .cam and .phone are all set to go to auction after their various delays and objections were cleared up.
It seems that .shop and .shopping contention sets remain merged, so only one string from one applicant will emerge victorious.
That’s due to a completely mad String Confusion Objection decision that ruled the two words are too confusingly similar to coexist in the DNS.
That SCO ruling was made by the same guy who held up both sets of applications when he ruled that .shop and .通販 (“.onlineshopping”) were also too confusingly similar.
The two rulings combined linked the contention sets for all three strings.
.通販 applicant Amazon appealed its SCO loss using a special process that ICANN created especially for the occasion, and won.
But .shop and .shopping applicants were not given the same right to appeal, meaning the auction will take place between nine .shop applicants and .shopping applicants Uniregistry and Donuts.
Donuts is an applicant for .shop and .shopping, meaning it will have to make its mind up which string it prefers, if it intends to win the auction. If it’s a private auction, Donuts would presumably qualify for a share of its own winning bid. Weird.
(UPDATE: That was incorrect).
The other contention set held up by an inconsistent SCO decision was .cam, which was originally ruled too similar to .com.
Rightside won its appeal too, meaning it will be fought at auction between Famous Four, Rightside and AC Webconnecting.
.phone had been held up for different reasons.
It’s a two-way fight between Donuts and Dish DBS, a TV company that wanted to run .phone as a closed generic. Like almost all closed generic applicants, Dish has since changed its plans.