The New York chapter of the Internet Society has called upon the city to delay the renewal of Neustar’s contract to run the .nyc gTLD, citing numerous concerns about how it is being managed.
In a letter (pdf) to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the group calls for a “town hall” and community consultation and for the city to “make appropriate adjustments” before the contract is renewed.
Its beef appears to be what it sees as .nyc’s lackluster performance in the market and the lack of promised community engagement.
The ISOC-NY letter contains a list of over a dozen “observations and nitpicks”.
These include a decline in .nyc registration volume, that fact that most .nyc names are parked, and the fact that Whois privacy is banned from the gTLD.
Neustar’s current contract is due to be renewed March, according to the letter.
(This post was updated February 8 to correct the expiry date of Neustar’s contract.)
Neustar is to release a batch of reserved, fashion-related .nyc premium domains to coincide with next month’s New York Fashion Week.
Twenty-four names, including clothes.nyc, fashion.nyc, salon.nyc, models.nyc and shop.nyc will be released via an auction, the company said in a press release.
SnapNames will manage the auction at Auctions.nyc from February 1 to February 28. This period includes the duration of New York Fashion Week, which starts February 9.
It’s the second batch of premiums released by Neustar, which runs .nyc on behalf of the City of New York, after a real estate-themed auction in 2016.
That auction resulted in modestly priced sales including realestate.nyc ($21,300) and apartments.nyc ($16,155).
Former .nyc hopeful Connecting.nyc has requested a dump of the entire .nyc Whois database using freedom of information legislation.
According to a blog post, the group has filed a request under the New York Freedom of Information Law for all 75,000 Whois records.
Connecting.nyc says it wants the data in order to plot every .nyc registrant on a map of the city to see “if the name purchasers were spread evenly over the city or concentrated in a particular neighborhood or borough. And if they were from a particular social or economic strata.”
It says it has spent 10 weeks asking for the data via email but has been rebuffed.
Under ICANN Registry Agreements, registries are under no obligation to offer bulk Whois access. Registrars are supposed to allow it under their accreditation agreements, but are allowed to charge huge sums.
The .nyc space does not allow private registrations. Its Whois data is all publicly accessible and could conceivably be mined via sequential queries.
The new gTLD is managed by Neustar but assigned to the City of New York, making it essentially government-owned.
It will be interesting to see whether Whois access falls under FOI law. Many other geographic gTLDs have government links and may fall under their own respective FOI legislation.
Connecting.nyc once intended to apply for .nyc itself, but is now a sort of self-appointed community watchdog for the gTLD. It’s an At-Large structure within ICANN.
The City of New York is working with Panama-based registrar CCI REG to reserve government-related domains in the new .nyc gTLD, despite imposing residency requirements on registrants.
CCI REG director Gerardo Aristizabal tells us it has already handled over 100 registrations during the “City Government-Affiliated Reserve List” phase of .nyc’s protracted launch schedule.
While it’s not technically an exclusive deal, the registrar does appear to be the registrar of choice for the City.
Aristizabal says that he’s in the process of setting up a New York-based registrar to handle .nyc-related business in future.
But today CCI REG is incorporated in Panama and is perhaps best-known to DI readers for being one of .CO Internet’s launch registrars. .CO is now of course owned by Neustar, .nyc’s back-end.
The registrar operated my.co, which focused on the Colombian market. for .co. For .nyc, it’s operating at hellodotnyc.com.
It amuses me that the City of New York, which is also the contracted registry for the gTLD, would choose to use an overseas registrar, given .nyc’s restricted policies.
To buy a .nyc name during general availability, currently slated for October, you’ll need a New York mailing address.
Ken Hansen has surprised many by resigning from Neustar, where he was general manager of the slam-dunk .nyc new gTLD initiative, to become CEO of .co.com, a new pseudo-TLD registry.
The announcement raises a couple of big questions.
First, why is .co.com being launched as a registry?
The name belongs to domain investor Paul Goldstone. He put it up for sale in March 2012, with broker DomainAdvisors speculating aloud that it would fetch a price in the millions.
We wondered at the time whether CentralNic, whose bread and butter back then (before its interests in new gTLDs became clear) was two-letter country-codes in .com, would swoop to buy it.
We also wondered whether .CO Internet would make an offer, in order to eliminate competition and reduce existing and potential confusion with its own ccTLD, .co.
If either company made an offer, it does not seem to have been accepted.
Goldstone is instead going to try to build a registry around the name, with Hansen as CEO and himself as president. DomainAdvisors founder Gregg McNair is chairman of the new venture.
Second, why on earth would Hansen, who has been leading business development for Neustar’s own .nyc — the forthcoming new gTLD for the city of New York — join an unproven .com subdomain provider?
He tells us that his confidence in .nyc’s prospects has not waned, but that he is one of the owners of the new company.
He said in an email:
Sometimes following the crowd is not the best thing to do in business. New gTLDs have always been about choice from my perspective. I still believe in new gTLDs in general, but there is still a VERY significant market for short recognizable domains ending in .com. We will meet that demand. Not to mention, we can move quickly without waiting on ICANN.
Gaining visibility for a subdomain product can be tricky at the best of times, but with hundred of new generic TLDs coming to market… Hansen, Goldstone and McNair really do have a challenge on their hands.
The new company intends to run sunrise, landrush and “premium” names phases for its launch, which is expected to kick off in the first quarter next year. No word yet on whether it will follow the CentralNic model and also voluntarily incorporate ICANN policies on UDRP, Whois and so forth.