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ICANN finds new home for Lebanon’s TLD after founder’s death

Kevin Murphy, December 20, 2023, Domain Registries

ICANN seems to have found a new manager for Lebanon’s ccTLD, just five months after its unprecedented decision to assume a “caretaker” role for the TLD.

The ICANN board of directors is set to vote tomorrow on whether to transfer .lb to the Internet Society Lebanon. If it’s on the agenda, it’s almost a shoo-in for a yay vote.

ICANN took over .lb from the American University in Beirut — which had no hands-on role in the ccTLD for a few years — in July, after the death of the registry’s founder and 30-year manager in January.

Nabil Bukhalid had died unexpectedly before he could find a successor to take over the registry, stymied at every turn by local politics and Lebanon’s horrific financial crisis.

ISOC Lebanon had been involved with his efforts to find .lb a new home, according to the complex potted history on the former registry’s web site, so it’s not coming in cold.

Several ccTLDs are already managed by their local ISOCs, including Israel, Sudan and Armenia.

ICANN created the new “caretaker” role in July to respond to “an extraordinary and temporary operational situation”. It seems to be a considerably faster process than the EBERO system used in gTLDs.

.lb is believed to have fewer than 5,000 domains under management.

Shiba Inu outs itself as crypto new gTLD applicant

Kevin Murphy, December 19, 2023, Domain Registries

Shib, the developer behind the Shiba Inu cryptocurrency, said today that it plans to apply to ICANN for the .shib top-level domain.

The idea is to have the domain in the consensus DNS root and also in a blockchain and to make the two interoperable.

The company has partnered with D3 Global, the startup launched in September by industry veterans Fred Hsu, Paul Stahura and Shayan Rostam, to work on the application and interoperability platform.

Shib seems to be the second customer for D3. It’s also working with a blockchain company called Viction on .vic.

Perhaps erring on the side of responsibility, D3 is using an asterisk instead of a dot when offering names prior to ICANN approval, so it’s *shib and *vic instead of .shib and .vic.

The next ICANN application round is not expected to open until early-to-mid-2026.

Over 50,000 .ai domains sold in three months

Kevin Murphy, December 19, 2023, Domain Registries

The .ai ccTLD registry sold over 50,000 domain names in just over a quarter, according to the registry.

Its recently updated web site says its total domains under management as of September 23 was 306,861, compared to 248,609 on June 14.

That represents a growth acceleration from its last update, which saw it register over 100,000 domains in a year.

The domain is of course popular due to the rise of artificial intelligence technologies and the popularity of chatbots such as ChatGPT.

The registry says its renewal rate in over 90% — very high for a TLD — but it expects that to decline due to its rapid growth.

The registry is managed by the Government of Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean.

Nominet to take over

Kevin Murphy, November 29, 2023, Domain Registries

Nominet says it has won a competitive tender process with the UK government and will take over the registry for early next year.

The registry was previously being managed by Jisc, which runs Nominet was already running its DNS.

The deal refers to the domains in, not to, which is a government services portal site.

The space is a bit of a strange one as far as government domains go — rather than a sole source, it has over 180 accredited registrars government agencies can choose from.

Nominet says it plans to take a more visible role in managing and modernizing the namespace.

.au regs slide on 2LD anniversary

Kevin Murphy, November 28, 2023, Domain Registries

Australia’s ccTLD has taken a rare turn for the worse recently in terms of domains under management, around the anniversary of a major name release.

.au had 4,227,033 domains today according to the registry’s web site. That’s down about 36,000 from the 4,263,106 names it was reporting on September 21.

September 21 was the one-year anniversary of registry auDA releasing millions of previously reserved second-level domains into the available pool, the last stage of its liberalization of the registration rules.

The registry took over 100,000 registrations in just a couple of days upon that release.

The released names were all those that had been held back as “priority” reservations for six months to give the owners of the matching third-level or domains first refusal.

While auDA does not daily break down its 2LD versus 3LD numbers, it seems likely the recent declines can be attributable to the predictable first-anniversary junk drop.

Before the 2LD service became available in March 2022, .au had 3.4 million domains under management, so the program has still boosted numbers overall.

Two more dot-brands bite the dust

Kevin Murphy, November 27, 2023, Domain Registries

Comcast has told ICANN it no longer wishes to operate two of its dot-brand gTLDs, which it hasn’t been using.

The US cable company said it wants to terminate its Registry Agreements for .comcast and .xfinity but didn’t say why.

My records show no registered names in either TLD, apart from the obligatory nic. domains. Comcast has no other dot-brands.

Assuming the terminations go through, it will reduce the number of contracted dot-brands to 376 from an initial total of 494.

.blackfriday is still a bit rubbish

Kevin Murphy, November 27, 2023, Domain Registries

It’s Cyber Monday, so this post is 100% OFF the usual price!

A decade ago, Black Friday — the day after Thanks Giving, on which retailers in the US deeply discount products to drum up sales — wasn’t really a thing here in the UK, but now it’s everywhere.

Largely as a result of pressure from US-based online retailers, the concept of Black Friday has been gradually seeping into the public consciousness here, and elsewhere in the world, since the early 2010s, and as such, you might expect sales of .blackfriday domains to have grown in tandem.

But they haven’t. In fact, the .blackfriday gTLD, which has been available since mid-2014, still languishes unloved and untended.

The latest registry transaction report shows just 1,084 .blackfriday domains under management at the end of July, down from 1,127 a year earlier and 1,580 five years ago.

The TLD peaked in 2016 at 12,000 names at a time when the original registry, Uniregistry, held approximately 10,000 domains for itself that it subsequently dropped.

The most-recent zone files show under 1,000 .blackfriday domains with name servers.

Being owned by GoDaddy Registry since March 2022, after Uniregistry shuttered and sold off all its gTLD contracts, hasn’t helped matters.

Remarkably, you still can’t buy .blackfriday domains via GoDaddy — the retail registrar arm of the company has precisely zero .blackfriday domains under management and redirects to a storefront where .blackfriday domains are not available.

If Google juice is any indication of popularity, some of the highest-profile companies actually using .blackfriday domains appear to be losing their enthusiasm.

Just clicking on the first few dozen .blackfriday domains in a Google results page reveals several web sites that have not been updated for this year’s Black Friday, some not for years. One of them,, is listed as a flagship tenant on GoDaddy’s registry web site, yet is still flogging deals for the European summer 2023 season.

Internet Naming Co acquires five more gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, November 17, 2023, Domain Registries

Internet Naming Co has acquired five unused dot-brand gTLDs and will relaunch them as unrestricted generics in the coming months.

The company, the Caymans-based successor to UNR, has acquired .diy, .food, .lifestyle, .living, and .vana from Lifestyle Domain Holdings, CEO Shayan Rostam told me today.

They were all dot-brands that were not used, but ICANN has already removed the dot-brand restrictions in their contracts, allowing them to be sold to a general audience.

The gTLDs moved to Tucows from Verisign’s winding-down back-end registry services platform this week, and INC is now waiting for ICANN to formally approve the registry agreement assignments, Rostam said.

“I’m launching these TLDs [as] unrestricted generics this winter, as our registrar partners are already aware,” he said in an email. “Startup launch plans will be finalized shortly after assignment.”

The acquisitions increase the size of INC’s portfolio from 11 to 16. The company launched with nine UNR TLDs — .click, .country, .help, .forum, .hiv, .love, .property, .sexy, and .trust — last year. It also runs .realty and .rest, according to its web site.

The five new acquisitions were originally owned by Lifestyle Domain Holdings, a subsidiary of a cable TV company that is now part of Warner Bros Discovery, which appears to be unloading its entire portfolio.

LDH earlier this year asked ICANN to terminate its contracts for .foodnetwork, .travelchannel, .hgtv and .cookingnetwork, and later for .cityeats and .frontdoor.

Domain universe grows despite .com drag

Kevin Murphy, November 16, 2023, Domain Registries

The number of registered domain names in the world grew by 2.7 million in the third quarter, despite market-leading .com shrinking, according to Verisign’s latest Domain Name Industry Brief.

There were 359.3 million domains across all TLDs at the end of September, according to the DNIB. up from 356.6 million at the end of June.

Over the same period, .com shrunk by half a million names as Verisign faces challenges from exposure to erratic demand from China.

New gTLD volumes were up by 2.1 million names to end the quarter at 30.2 million. Judging by zone files, at least half of these new names seem to be cheap, low-quality regs in the likes of .top and .cfd.

Total ccTLD names were 138.1 million at the end of the quarter, up by a million. All of the top 10 ccTLDs grew or were flat, except .uk, which lost about a hundred thousand names.

Bosnian government to sue US domain firm that cut it off

Kevin Murphy, November 3, 2023, Domain Registries

One of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two governments has said it will sue a US domain name company — probably Verisign — for turning off the domain it was using for official government business.

“The Government of the Republic of Srpska will hire legal experts to prepare a lawsuit against the company that disabled the use of the website of the Government of the Republic Srpska without prior notice,” the government said in a statement on its new web site.

It did not name the company in question, but we can narrow it down to a few.

Its old domain,, was registered via Dotster, a reseller for, part of Newfold Digital. The .net registry is of course Verisign. These are all American companies subject to US legal jurisdiction.

The domain still exists in Whois, but has been removed from the .net zone file and does not resolve.

The Republika Srpska, or Serb Republic, is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina that doesn’t particularly want to be a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As such, its new domain is in .rs, the ccTLD for neighboring Serbia, rather than Bosnia’s .ba.

The old .net domain was reportedly deleted due to US sanctions against the Republic, which were expanded October 20 to include members of President Milorad Dodik’s family and several corporate entities.

The US accuses the Dodik family of widespread “graft, bribery, and other forms of corruption” and engaging in “divisive ethno-nationalistic rhetoric” to divert attention from their activities. It additionally accuses them of violating the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in the region in the 1990s.