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Taliban seizing domains to silence journalists

Kevin Murphy, October 5, 2022, Domain Registries

The Taliban is attempting to close down independent media outlets in Afghanistan by deleting their .af domain names.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology tweeted that the sites of Hasht-e Subh Daily and Zawia News were “taken down” for publishing “unbalanced reports and fake news”.

.af’s registry is government-run.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the two sites have been reporting by Afghans in exile since the Taliban retook the country over a year ago.

Both outlets have now switched domains to TLDs based in the US — Verisign and Identity Digital, where presumably they’re pretty safe from the Taliban’s reach. They’re now using zawiamedia.com and 8am.media instead of the original .af names.

Identity Digital publishes treasure trove of abuse data

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2022, Domain Registries

Identity Digital, the old Donuts, has started publishing quarterly reports containing a wealth of data on reported abuse and the actions it takes in response.

The data for the second quarter, released (pdf) at the weekend, shows that the registry receives thousands of reports and suspends hundreds of domains for DNS abuse, but the number of domains it takes down for copyright infringement is quite small.

ID said that it received 3,007 reports covering 3,816 unique domains in the quarter, almost 93% of which related to phishing. The company said the complaints amounted to 0.024% of its total registered domains.

Most cases were resolved by third parties such as the registrar, hosting provider, or registrant, but ID said it suspended (put on “protective hold”) 746 domains during the period. In only 11% of cases was no action taken.

The company’s hitherto opaque “Trusted Notifier” program, which allows the Motion Picture Association and Recording Industry Association of America to request takedowns of prolific piracy sites resulted in six domain suspensions, all as a result of MPA requests.

The Internet Watch Foundation, which has similar privileges, resulted in 26 domains being reported for child sexual abuse material. Three of these were suspended, and the remainder were “remediated” by the associated registrar, according to ID.

The report also breaks down how many requests for private Whois data the company received, and how it processed them. Again, the numbers are quite low. Of requests for data on 44 domains, 18 were tossed for incompleteness, 23 were refused, and only three resulted in data being handed over.

Perhaps surprisingly, only two of the requests related to intellectual property. The biggest category was people trying to buy the domain in question.

This is a pretty cool level of transparency from ID and it’ll be interesting to see if its rivals follow suit.

Identity Digital to release 5,000 reserved names

Kevin Murphy, September 1, 2022, Domain Registries

Identity Digital, the portfolio registry formerly known as Donuts, plans to release around 5,000 names from its reserved inventory later this month.

They’ll carry premium first-year prices, but will be priced to sell via the regular registrar channel.

Among the newly available names are some pretty sweet combos, including: rock.band, miami.dentist, aerospace.engineer, farm.forsale, esports.games, tech.guide, trading.live, dallas.mortgage. clothing.sale, security.software, wedding.video and box.wine.

The names will become available at 1700 UTC on September 13.

Donuts goes with bland, forgettable, for new company name [rant]

What is it with domain name companies and their terrible brands?

Donuts is now Identity Digital Inc, the company said today, with the Donuts and Afilias brands being retired.

The new name was chosen “to reflect better the commitment to helping customers find, grow and protect their authentic digital identities” the company said in a press release. I also get the vibe that the company may be expanding further outside of domains in future. Blockchain stuff, maybe?

It appears that the company has adopted a practice-what-you-preach approach to branding — it’s advocating that businesses register domains with strong keywords to the left and right of the dot, so that’s what Identity Digital will also do.

That’s fair enough, I guess.

It’s using identity.digital as its new domain, which is just as well, because the company seems to have just made itself search-proof.

If you couldn’t tell already, I don’t like the name. It strikes me as the kind of name a company might pick if it wanted to keep a low profile.

It sounds like a two-man SEO startup operating in a room above a vape shop in a northern English market town.

The name “Donuts” had been picked when the company formed in 2010 to reflect the fact that the founders were nuts about domains. Afilias was named as such because it was a joint venture of over a dozen registrars.

These were great, memorable brands!

GoDaddy, Tucows, Porkbun… all examples of strong, colorful, novel brands in the domain space. When I read about these companies, I know immediately who I’m reading about, and they don’t have any keywords in their names.

Even after 12 years writing this blog, I still have to remind myself which registrar is Name.com and which is Domain.com. Now, I’m going to be constantly reminding myself which company used to be Endurance and which used to be Donuts. Meh.

Perhaps I’m just irritated that I’m going to have to spend the next year writing “Identity Digital, formerly Donuts”.

Still, at least it’s better than “TrueName”.