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Registrar Stakeholder Group Negotiating Team (Registrar NT) statement regarding RAA negotiations

  • To: "comments-proposed-raa-07mar13@xxxxxxxxx" <comments-proposed-raa-07mar13@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Registrar Stakeholder Group Negotiating Team (Registrar NT) statement regarding RAA negotiations
  • From: "Michele Neylon :: Blacknight" <michele@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2013 10:58:38 +0000

After nearly 18 months of negotiations with ICANN over a new Registrar 
Accreditation Agreement (RAA), formal negotiations have concluded. The posting 
of a “proposed” 2013 RAA by ICANN for public comment signals that ICANN staff 
believes that negotiations have concluded and the remaining issues will not be 

The Registrars’ NT disagrees. To be clear, this is NOT the outcome that 
registrars wanted, and they remain ready and willing to continue negotiations.

Prior to the Toronto ICANN meeting (October 2012), all parties acknowledged 
that they were very close to agreement on all remaining issues.  The process 
appeared to be reaching a favorable conclusion and when ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé 
communicated his desire to have RAA negotiations wrapped up by the end of 2012, 
registrars felt it was an ambitious timeframe, but one worth pursuing for the 
benefit of all parties.

When negotiations finally resumed in February 2013 much to the surprise of 
registrars, the few remaining issues were not the only items under discussion. 
ICANN staff presented a list of 10 brand new items for inclusion in the 
agreement, under the pretext of enhancing the “public interest.” Furthermore, 
these new items came along with an arbitrary deadline and decision to link the 
2013 RAA to the new gTLD timeline.

Among these new demands was a Registrant Rights and Responsibilities document 
(R3), a temporary privacy accreditation program and a requirement that 
registrars accept and implement recommendations of the WHOIS Expert Working 
Group, which had yet to be formed and whose work is just beginning.

Although registrars were surprised by these new demands, registrars worked in 
good faith with ICANN to accommodate its intentions. For example, registrars 
consulted with their members to fine-tune the R3 document to make it easier to 
understand and readily translatable in other languages.  

Some of the other new items for inclusion transcend the RAA and could affect 
the entirety of the multi-stakeholder model.  For example, ICANN insisted on 
including a proposed Revocation (or “blow up”) Clause that would have given 
them the ability to unilaterally terminate all registrar accreditations. After 
major pushback, ICANN staff relented and in its place proposed giving the ICANN 
Board the ability to unilaterally amend the RAA. This is identical to what 
ICANN inserted into the proposed new gTLD registry agreement–a clause met with 
strong opposition not only from the Registry Stakeholder Group but from the 
broader ICANN community.

The effect of such a clause in the primary agreements between ICANN and its 
commercial stakeholders would be devastating to the bottom-up, 
multi-stakeholder model.  First, it will effectively mean the end of the GNSO’s 
PDP, as the Board will become the central arena for all controversial issues, 
not the community. Second, it creates an imbalance of authority in the ICANN 
model, with no limits on the scope or frequency of unilateral amendments, and 
no protections for registrars and more important registrants.

In addition to the new items for inclusion there was a surprise announcement 
that all new gTLD registries must only use registrars that have signed the 2013 
RAA, a transparent effort by ICANN to arbitrarily link the new gTLD program to 
the outcome of RAA negotiations. This requirement would create separate 
“classes” or “levels” of registrars, which is unprecedented in the DNS 
industry.  There can and must be only one meaning of “ICANN-Accredited.”

All of the items that have been agreed to over the past 18 months would, by 
themselves, produce an RAA that is vastly improved over the current 2009 
version. If adopted, that RAA would significantly raise performance 
requirements for every ICANN accredited registrar and bring dramatic 
improvements to the domain name ecosystem. Nearly all of the Law Enforcement 
requests that were endorsed by the GAC have been included, as well as the major 
items that were requested by the GNSO are included in that RAA. That RAA would 
bring registrant verification. That RAA would bring enhanced compliance tools.

Registrars must emphasize that the key differences between that RAA and the one 
currently proposed by ICANN are not issues raised by Law Enforcement, GAC or 
the GNSO but by ICANN staff. 

It now moves to the greater ICANN community to review these competing draft 
RAAs, and registrars look forward to those public discussions.  We welcome 
engagement with all stakeholders on the new 2013 RAA, and what it means for 
registrars, registrants, and the management of the DNS as a whole.

Mr Michele Neylon
Blacknight Solutions ♞
Hosting & Domains
ICANN Accredited Registrar
Intl. +353 (0) 59  9183072
US: 213-233-1612 
Facebook: http://fb.me/blacknight
Twitter: http://twitter.com/mneylon
Blacknight Internet Solutions Ltd, Unit 12A,Barrowside Business Park,Sleaty
Road,Graiguecullen,Carlow,Ireland  Company No.: 370845

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