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New gTLD to increase prices 10x, add blockchain voting service

Kevin Murphy, January 4, 2018, Domain Registries

The new gTLD .voting is to suffer a steep price increase as its registry bakes a new “e-voting solution” into its offering.

Valuetainment, the Germany-based registry, informed registrars of its decision recently.

While I don’t know the exact figures involved, it appears the annual wholesale cost of a .voting domain will rise more than tenfold.

Currently, the retail price of a .voting domain can range from $60 to $100 per year. After June 1, that price is likely to start around the $600 mark.

But the registry also told registrars it plans to bundle in with each domain an “e-voting solution” in which “votes are anchored in the blockchain”. There would be no additional charge for this service.

This actually smells a bit like innovation, something the new gTLD program has lacked to date but which sometimes scares away registrars that see mainly implementation and support costs.

Steep price increases also have a track record of scaring away registrars, as Uniregistry discovered last year.

I understand the plan is to apply the price increase to renewals for all existing .voting domains, which currently number a little under 1,000.

At the last count, two thirds of .voting domains had been sold via German reseller platform RegistryGate, with GoDaddy a distant second.

Registry representatives have not responded to a request for information about the blockchain-based voting service, so I can’t tell you much more about it other than blockchain-based systems are in vogue right now due to the popularity of speculation in electronic “currencies” such as Bitcoin.

Mistake blamed for “Germans only” .voting policy

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Registries

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.

An English new gTLD restricted to Germans?

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Registries

Reading through the policies of new gTLD registries has given me cause to double-take several times, but .voting has to be one of the oddest yet.

Ostensibly an English-language gTLD, managed by a registry based in Switzerland, .voting domains will be essentially restricted to residents of Germany, according to its policies.

[UPDATE: The policy was actually submitted by mistake. See this story for an update.]

The Domain Name Registration Policy (pdf) submitted to ICANN by the registry, Valuetainment, states:

Registrants are obliged to supply an individual resident in the Federal Republic of Germany as contact person for all registered domains. This contact is generally described as the administrative contact (Admin-C). The registrant ca name himself as Admin-C.

My German isn’t great, and I’m aware that German speakers are very relaxed about adopting English words into common usage, but I’m pretty sure the language has its own verb for voting.

What makes the Germans-only admin contact policy weirder is that Valuetainment is Swiss and its policies state that the registration agreement is subject to Swiss law.

The .voting policy only states that the Administrative contact in Whois has to be German, which means that the main Registrant contact could technically be based in any country.

But if that registrant can’t name a German as an Administrative contact, technically they’ll be in violation of the rules.

It’s possible that registrars will be able to supply a local proxy in Germany, if they have one or want to go to the expense of setting one up, but it seems like a hassle.

There are a few other oddities in .voting’s policies.

Notably, Valuetainment is not just selling you a domain name, it’s granting you a license to use its “.voting” European Community trademark. Its Eligibility Policy (pdf) states:

For the duration of the registration, the Registry grants the user of a . VOTING domain a right of use with regard to the European Community Trade Mark No. 1111568 (. VOTING]. The license fees are included in the registration fee.

Registrants will be banned from charging for their services — .voting web sites must all be provided free of charge unless they’re providing “statistical voting evaluations”.

They’ll also be banned from offering directories of .voting sites, because Valuetainment intends to offer such a service and doesn’t want any competition.

Also, presumably so the registry can comply with local laws, any attempt to deny the Holocaust will cause your domain to be yanked under the company’s Rapid Takedown Policy (pdf).