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Proposed Registrant Protections Inadequate

  • To: raa-consultation@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Proposed Registrant Protections Inadequate
  • From: "Yule Semore" <mergers@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2008 02:43:43 +0800

The proposed Registrant Protections are fully inadequate and appear to 
intentionally ignore serious problems within the operations of registrars. 
While many of your proposed amendments may improve the system, without 
meaningful registrant-focused reforms, your proposals are likely to only 
strengthen and insulate the bad actors of today by making it more difficult for 
others to compete.

Section 3.7.9 of the current agreement states that "Registrar shall abide by 
any ICANN adopted specifications or policies prohibiting or restricting 
warehousing of or speculation in domain names by registrars."

Those specifications and policies need to be stated unambiguously in any new 
agreement, and should be expanded to address the disgraceful practice of 
auctioning client domain names. 

Further, ICANN regulations for domain name registrars already dictate a 
requirement for deletion and auto-renewal policies. The only reasons currently 
outlined for failing to delete a domain name are listed as:

- UDRP action

- valid court order

- failure of a Registrar's renewal process
  (which does not include failure of a registrant to respond)

- the domain name is used by a nameserver that provides DNS service to 
third-parties (additional time may be required to migrate the records managed 
by the nameserver)

- the registrant is subject to bankruptcy proceedings

- payment dispute (where a registrant claims to have paid for a renewal, or a 
discrepancy in the amount paid)

- billing dispute (where a registrant disputes the amount on a bill)

- the domain name subject to litigation in a court of competent jurisdiction, or

- other circumstance as approved specifically by ICANN

Obvious in its absence, is the "we may be able to sell this domain name for 
more if we hold on to it for a while longer" provision. Indeed, this is the 
very type of action that was implied to have been prohibited by the inclusion 
of the "warehousing of or speculation in domain names" language.

Unfortunately, not only do many registrars fail to delete expired domain names 
in a timely manner and return them to the pool of available names, the reality 
is that when a client's domain name expires, these same registrars simply take 
over the client's domain name. 

That is, the registrar will replace registrant?s DNS servers with the 
registrar's own DNS servers. The registrar will then use the DNS servers to 
redirect the domain name to their own (advertising-filled) web site. After 
taking full control of the client domain, these registrars actually replace the 
legitimate registrant?s contact information with the registrar?s own contact 
information or its agent. 

And that's just the beginning.

These same registrars (or contracted agents) actually use the client's 
redemption period to conduct an auction for the domain name off to the highest 
bidder. And should the true registrant of such registrar-hijacked domain name 
fail to renew the domain name registration before the end of the redemption 
period, then the registrar ? continuing to treat the domain name as its own 
property ? sells the domain name and keeps the proceeds.

Of course, the registrar is not the owner of any such domain name and does not 
have any material interest in the underlying expiring registration. And, since 
these practices are not authorized by the contracts under which registrars 
operate, they do not provide published information regarding the processes 

The exact process seems to vary from registrar to registrar, with reports that 
some registrars not only keep (register in their own name) the most valuable of 
the expiring domain names for their own company's portfolio, but that most 
recently, there are reports that a VP of GoDaddy - the largest registrar by 
volume - has actually been bidding up the price of such domain names in these 

With the largest accredited registrars behaving in this manner, your proposed 
"Registrant Protections" amount to encouragement, if not collusion. For long 
enough, you as a body, have pretended to function as unknowing of these 
predatory practices, while as individuals you have benefited from them. So lest 
you attempt to hide behind your consultations for "improving institutional 
confidence" or your self-proclaimed "significant progress", let it be known, 
that despite your sacrificial lamb of stopping domain kiting, you have failed 
and continue to fail the common registrant.

One of the most egregious failures for the registrant is demonstrated in your 
ombudsman. His intentional avoidance of, and outright refusal to record 
complaints is a disgrace to the very concept of an ombudsman. Lacking any 
desire to address registrant complaints in a meaningful fashion, he serves more 
accurately as a barrier to problem resolution.

It is no wonder that he has received so few complaints, as he makes himself as 
unavailable as possible and rejects all complaints that do not fit nicely 
within the few areas for which he has poorly prepared canned answers:
    * If you are trying to resolve a dispute concerning a service provided your 
    * If you are trying to resolve a complaint related to Whois data
    * If you have a dispute involving the requested transfer of a domain name 
from one registrar to another
    * If you need information about what you can do if someone is using your 
trademark in a domain name
    * If your complaint is about SPAM or Internet Viruses
    * If your complaint concerns an unsolicited renewal and transfer request, 
or an unauthorized transfer of your domain name
    * If the subject matter of your dispute is not listed above, and does not 
relate to an act, decision, or inaction by the ICANN staff, Board of Directors, 
or supporting organization
    * If your dispute involves an act, decision or inaction by ICANN staff, 
Board of Directors, or supporting organizations

Conveniently, his answer to all of these issues is either "not my jurisdiction" 
or go read a report. But what about complaints that are potentially damaging to 
ICANN; complaints regarding the failure of ICANN to effect its authority to 
stop registrar abuses? Quite clearly, such complaints are rejected, never to 
become part of the ombudsman's "official" statistics.

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