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The people have spoken on RDRS and they said “Meh”

Kevin Murphy, May 21, 2024, Domain Services

Users of ICANN’s new Whois data request service appear to be overwhelmingly apathetic about it, if the results of the first quarterly user survey are to be believed.

ICANN sent surveys to 861 users of the Registration Data Request Service and 29 of the registrars that support it. Only 17 requesters and 15 registrars responded, and not every respondent answered every question.

With such a small sample size, it’s debatable whether the results can tell ICANN or anyone else whether RDRS is any good or not.

Asked whether having RDRS was better or worse than not having RDRS, only seven requester respondents answered. Two thought it was “much worse”, one thought it was “somewhat worse”, two thought it was “about the same” and two thought it was “somewhat better”.

Nobody clicked the button for “much better”, a fact that would be quite easy to seize upon as a headline if not for the fact that this is a survey of seven people and therefore pretty much worthless.

Responses to free-text questions perhaps shed a little light on the user experience: some people think it’s too slow, they’re not happy that they didn’t get the data they wanted, and the level of registrar support is too low.

Asked the same question about whether RDRS has made handling Whois requests better or worse, 11 registrars responded. The mix was heavily towards the “worse” end of the scale, which is probably not what ICANN wanted to hear.

In free-text responses, some registrars said they found the interface and workflow lacking, making the process of handling requests take more time and effort than doing the same outside RDRS. Pretty much the diametrical opposite of RDRS’s raison d’etre.

RDRS is a two-year pilot that has data-gathering as one of its primary purposes, but with such a lackluster response to the first survey ICANN is surely hoping the seven remaining surveys may produce some more meaningful stats.

The full survey results are available to read here (pdf), if you can be bothered.

DNS Abuse Institute changes name

Kevin Murphy, May 14, 2024, Domain Services

The DNS Abuse Institute is rebranding around its flagship product in order to make its name shorter and less confusing, according to the organization.

It’s now called the NetBeacon Institute, after a free security service it launched two years ago, and its products are also being renamed accordingly.

The old NetBeacon service, a clearinghouse for DNS abuse reports, is now called NetBeacon Reporter. The old DNSAI Compass abuse metrics reporting service is now the NetBeacon Measurement and Analytics Platform.

“The old name was a bit long, generated confusion, and required explanation,” executive director Graeme Bunton said on social media.

It’s moved its internet presences from dnsabuseinstitute.org to netbeacon.org.

NetBeacon’s services are free and funded by .org registration fees collected by Public Interest Registry.

New Vegas conference “Davos for Web3 interoperability”

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2024, Domain Services

Specialist new gTLD consultancy D3 is to hold a two-day conference in Las Vegas at the end of the month it’s describing as the “Davos for Web3 interoperability”.

Imposingly named Dominion, it’s due to take place at the Cesar’s Palace hotel from April 29 to 30. The theme is the interoperability between the traditional domain name system and newer blockchain-based naming systems.

Organizers says it’s invite-only, and limited to about 125 attendees, but an invitation can be requested from the event’s web site.

Keynote speakers include Lily Liu (president of the Solana Foundation) and Fred Gregaard (CEO of the Cardano Foundation) on the blockchain side of things, and Matt Overman of Identity Digital on the domain name side, as well as D3 CEO Fred Hsu.

D3 specializes in arranging gTLD applications for blockchain firms and has five announced clients so far.

GlobalBlock blocking 2.5 million domains

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2024, Domain Services

GoDaddy-led brand protection project GlobalBlock says it is already blocking over 2.5 million domains, just a couple of weeks after its formal launch.

The GlobalBlock web site reports that 2,569,815 domains are currently being blocked across 559 extensions (a mix of ccTLDs, gTLDs, third-level domains and blockchain names), for an average of just under 4,600 per extension.

It’s difficult to extrapolate much useful information about rapid market demand for the service from this one number, for a variety of reasons.

First, the more-expensive GlobalBlock+ service can block well north of 10,000 domains, mostly homographic variants of a trademark, for a single fee, which could mean as few as just a couple hundred customers have signed up so far at the most pessimistic interpretation.

Second, GlobalBlock offered pricing incentives to existing customers of GoDaddy’s AdultBlock and Identity Digital’s Domain Protected Marks List, both of which are over a decade old, in the months-long run-up to launch.

The vanilla, single-brand GlobalBlock service retails for about $6,000 per year, with GlobalBlock+ going for closer to $9,000.

GoDaddy’s GlobalBlock supports blockchain names

Kevin Murphy, February 29, 2024, Domain Services

GoDaddy’s Brand Safety Alliance has finally released the list of TLDs supported by its new GlobalBlock brand protection service, and it’s notable for including a couple dozen extensions that aren’t real TLDs at all.

Formally announcing its launch today, the company said GlobalBlock will initially allow trademark owners and others to block their marks and variants in about 600 “extensions” and published the list on its web site.

The term “extension”, as opposed to “TLD”, is important, as the headline number seems to count zones where names are registerable at the third level — so .bar.pro and .cpa.pro and .com.cx and .net.cx, for examples, are individually counted.

I count a total of 457 TLDs on the currently published list, of which 27 are distinct ccTLDs.

But I also about 20 strings that aren’t real TLDs. As well as pseudo-gTLD .it.com, a lot of supported extensions appear to on blockchain naming systems such as Unstoppable Domains (proving, once again, that Unstoppable chose entirely the wrong brand for its service).

The blockchain TLDs currently listed are: .altimist, .anime, .binanceus, .bitcoin, .blockchain, .crypto, .dao, .go, .hi, .klever, .kresus, .manga, .nft, .polygon, .pudgy, .unstoppable, .wallet, .x and .zil.

About 270 of the real gTLDs on the list belong to Identity Digital, with GoDaddy Registry accounting for about 35.

Google Registry has 28 gTLDs on the list, seven of which aren’t even publicly available yet, such as .search and .map. This in either incredibly cheeky — selling blocks in TLDs in which cybersquatting is literally impossible — or a sign that Google plans to release more of its dormant gTLD inventory soon.

Other registries with multi-TLD representation on the list include Global Registry Services, GMO Registry, Internet Naming Co, ZACR and Nominet (though, while .wales and .cymru are currently listed, .uk is not).

Notable by their absence are portfolio registries Radix, XYZ and ShortDot.

UPDATE: This story was updated several hours after publication to remove the reference to Handshake. Unstoppable Domains is the only blockchain naming system to so far be in the GlobalBlock ecosystem.

Dueling domain blocking services to launch at ICANN 79

Kevin Murphy, February 26, 2024, Domain Services

Norwegian startup NameBlock is set to launch its suite of brand protection and domain security services later this week, with a somewhat different take on the market to its primary competitor.

Recently appointed CEO Pinky Brand tells me the company plans to formally launch March 1, the day before the ICANN 79 public meeting begins in Puerto Rico.

The company is coming out with two services to begin with — BrandLock, which allows trademark owners to block their marks across multiple TLDs, and AbuseShield, which blocks hundreds of variant domains that are considered at the most risk of abuse.

BrandLock is perhaps most directly comparable to the DPML service offered by Identity Digital, GoDaddy’s AdultBlock, and the multi-registry GlobalBlock service that is also due to formally launch in San Juan next week.

The service requires the buyer to own a verified trademark, and the exact match of that mark will be blocked over a multitude of ccTLDs and gTLDs. Brand said reseller partners may choose to bundle different TLDs thematically or offer them as one-offs.

He said he expects it to retail for $40 to $50 per domain per year, so presumably makes the most sense for the more-expensive TLDs or for buyers who have other reasons to want a block rather than a defensive registration.

The value proposition seems a lot clearer for AbuseShield, which is notable for not requiring a trademark to get protection — it’s more of a security pitch than a brand-protection story.

Under AbuseShield, when a registrant buys a name in a participating TLD, they will be given the option to pay to block a couple hundred potentially abusive variant domains in that same TLD, for a far lower cost than they’d pay to defensively register them individually.

Using data from NameBlock’s majority shareholder iQ Global, the company identifies homographic variants and common “abuse prefixes” — strings such as “login” and “https” — to compile a list of domains to be blocked. A feature called VariantCatcher will automatically block already-registered risky domains at the registry when they expire, for no extra cost.

“We want to make the abuse prevention market much, much wider than it has been before,” Brand said. “You’d pay $89 to $129 a year the block the 100 to 250 variations that we know are most likely to be used by someone to do you harm.”

At first, the service will be available through NameBlock resellers, currently those registrars focused on corporate services, but the company plans to make an API available in a few months that will let retail registrars offer the service as an up-sell in their storefront.

At launch, NameBlock has around 15 resellers, such as MarkMonitor, CSC, 101Domain, Encirca and Gandi, Brand said. Registries for about a dozen TLDs will be on board, but Brand said he expects this to grow to 40 to 50 in a couple months.

CoCCA which makes registry software used by 57 ccTLDs, has already announced its support for NameBlock’s services.

Elsewhere at ICANN 79, you’ll find the Brand Safety Alliance, a GoDaddy-led initiative purveying the new GlobalBlock service, which is more of brand-protection play

As I’ve previously blogged, because portfolio registries GoDaddy and Identity Digital are involved, GlobalBlock can provide blocking coverage in hundreds of TLDs — over 560 at the current count — with prices starting at about $6,000 a year retail.

While GlobalBlock and NameBlock are certainly operating in the same space, there appears to be enough variation between the two services that the market might be able to support both.

First GlobalBlock prices revealed — they ain’t cheap

Kevin Murphy, February 15, 2024, Domain Services

Trademarks owners, organizations and celebrities could find themselves paying the thick end of ten grand for the “peace of mind” offered by the new GoDaddy-led GlobalBlock trademark protection service.

101domain, which often has some of the least-expensive pricing, has become the first registrar to publish its prices for the domain-blocking service, which entered beta this week.

The base GlobalBlock service, which offers single-string blocking in 560 gTLDs and ccTLDs, is going for $5,999 per year, according to the 101domain storefront. The GlobalBlock+ version, which covers potentially tens of thousands of variants and typos, starts at $8,999 a year.

None of the other 20 approved GlobalBlock resellers I checked are currently publishing prices.

Some simple division shows us that the basic service works out to roughly $10.71 per domain per year — a bit more than Verisign will charge for a wholesale .com when its prices go up later this year — but the average per-domain cost should go down as more registries sign up to GlobalBlock.

With the GlobalBlock+ service offering to block 50,000 domains or more, the per-domain price obviously shrinks to pennies.

GlobalBlock is offered by the Brand Safety Alliance, a GoDaddy initiative, but it has support from the likes of Identity Digital, which has hundreds of gTLDs in its stable. Dozens of gTLD registry operators have recently asked ICANN’s permission to offer GlobalBlock and rival offering NameBlock.

The BSA has previously said it expects to launch with over 650 TLDs on board. A calculator on its web site suggests 511 are currently operational, but it has not yet named the participating TLDs.

D3 signs up crypto gTLD client number five

Kevin Murphy, February 15, 2024, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy D3 Global has signed up its fifth blockchain gTLD client since launching last September.

The company today announced a deal with Core Chain to apply for .core when ICANN next opens a new gTLD application window, currently expected mid-2026.

Core Chain makes a software platform for developers that want to building decentralized applications on blockchains. It says it has over five million connected cryptocurrency wallets.

D3 has recently announced similar partnerships with NEAR Foundation (.near), Gate.io (.gate), Viction (.vic) and Shiba Inu (.shib).

The company says its mission is to help blockchain companies operate on the traditional DNS as well as the blockchain-based alternate naming systems.

GoDaddy project unveils brand-blocking calculator

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2024, Domain Services

GlobalBlock, an ambitious brand-protection initiative led by GoDaddy, has revealed a blocking calculator on its web site, showing potential clients how many thousands of domains they can expect to block for a single annual fee.

The calculator takes the user’s trademark as input (you can enter any string) and tells them how many domains are eligible to be blocked with the GlobalBlock service, which includes exact-match names in hundreds of TLDs, and GlobalBlock+, which includes variants.

The first value seems to top out at 511 right now, suggesting there are currently 511 TLDs live in the system.

The GlobalBlock+ result seems to depend to a large extent on how many potentially confusing homographs (such as ASCII letters that look like Cyrillic or Greek letters) your trademark contains. The string “facebook” shows 58,765 blocks, for example, while “google” returns 63,875.

GlobalBlock, a service of the GoDaddy-owned Brand Safety Alliance, had previously said it expects to launch this week with over 650 supported TLDs. Several gTLD registries are still waiting for ICANN approval to participate via the Registry Service Evaluation Process.

What’s not currently available is pricing. GlobalBlock is selling via “agents”, usually registrars, and while some registrars have already started marketing the service with press releases or blog posts, nobody seems to have put a dollar value on the service yet.

D3 announces fourth crypto new gTLD client

Kevin Murphy, February 8, 2024, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy startup D3 Global, which emerged just five months ago, is signing up would-be applicants at a pretty rapid clip, announcing its fourth client today.

The company said it is working with NEAR Foundation, a Swiss non-profit, to apply for .near when ICANN opens up the next application window, which is currently expected in 2026.

NEAR is behind what it calls a Blockchain Operating System, a set of software designed to make it easier for developers to create apps that work across multiple blockchains.

D3’s specialty is working with companies that want to apply for gTLDs that work on both blockchains and the consensus ICANN DNS root.

It’s already announced deals with Gate.io (.gate), Viction (.vic) and Shiba Inu (.shib).