ASCR REPLY: Response from the Anti-Spam Community Registry
The majority of comments on our .Mail proposal have been positive, but many also question the proposed $2000 registration fee. We feel that these questions and criticisms are both valid and well-taken, and would like to address the issue. Only through an open dialogue can we represent the community of responsible email users.
The $2000 fee is a starting point, and is intended for the early adopters of the .Mail system: large mail users. We anticipate that initially, it will be moderately expensive to validate large corporations and monitor their prolific email use, as well as to build out the system that we propose, and demonstrate that the system works as we believe it will. These are large entities that have problems now with their genuine mail being filtered as spam. Think in terms of eBay notices, Amazon.com purchase confirmations and the like. Consider the fake Microsoft update notices, or the fake eBay and Paypal notices that are scams to get your credit card number or personal information. As the .Mail system becomes established, it will be able to aid in making these types of fraudulent spams a thing of the past, which is of great importance both to you and to the companies who are victimized.
Is $2000 still too high, even in this initial phase? It could be, as it very well may be less expensive than we anticipate to perform the validation on large corporate entities and provide for the constant monitoring that ensures responsible use. If this is the case, the price will fall. As outlined in our application to ICANN, the Anti-Spam Community Registry is formed as a non-profit organization and the fee structure will reflect this.
In terms of small businesses and individual users, the concern that you need a .Mail for your mail to get through is a misconception. Consider: if you truly believe that without a .Mail domain your mail won't get through, what you're saying is that you believe that this plan will work so well that .Mail will become the de-facto method for passing email and eliminating spam. We hope so, too. But that also means that widespread adoption will allow us to rapidly offer service to smaller companies and individuals at a very small fraction of the initial price. This is and has been our goal. But to reach that goal, we need first to build and prove the platform. As such, we're putting the initial higher costs on larger corporations who will also be the initial user community. To be perfectly clear, there is no cost to the end-user.
In other words, these corporations will drive the adoption of this plan as well as help fund its creation so that we can then offer it to smaller companies and individuals at lower cost for those kinds of users. As we have created our proposal, only you can get your domain's corresponding .Mail domain. There is no chance of anyone else getting it before you, as only the owner of "example.com" may register "example.com.mail." There is no need to snap-up your preferred domain for fear of someone else "cybersquatting" on it. Trademark disputes, "sunrise" periods and other forced-registration issues simply do not exist for .Mail. Basically, if you ever have the need to use a .Mail domain that corresponds a domain you have, it has been held for you. Please understand that .Mail is an underlying system, meaning anyone at any email address can send email though a validated .Mail mailserver if the server allows you to, and that the "From:" address is not at all tied to the .Mail domain. Each .com/.net/etc domain does not need to have a corresponding .Mail domain to use the system. As adoption drives the prices down (and it will,) service for small business and individual users will be established at a lower cost, and multiple registrations will not be necessary.
At the end of the day, all we ask is that you evaluate the proposal on its technical merits, and realize that the economics of creating such a solution require an initially-higher price to larger, early adopters, so that the majority of users can participate at a lower cost. All regular email will flow as it always has, and the .Mail sTLD does nothing to change that. Its goal is to help non-spam email from responsible senders get delivered. The .Mail system is free to be used by every email recipient in the world. Checking to see if a .Mail tagged email is valid will always be a service provided at no cost to the entire Internet. It is offered in the same manner that The Spamhaus Project has offered its other anti-spam tools to the email community for many years.
Many of the questions asked here in this forum and others still unasked here have been addressed at our Frequently Asked Questions website hosted at: http://www.spamhaus.org/tld/faq.lasso . Additionally, our complete application, including technical sections not posted at ICANN's site may be found at: http://www.ascregistry.org . Regardless of the pro or con nature of the comments posted, we really do appreciate that people have taken the time to post these opinions to ICANN. As email is such a vital part of the Internet, we had hoped and are glad to see that this sTLD proposal has one of the largest number of early-on comments of any sTLD proposal.
Thanks to all, and rest assured, each opinion is read and discussed. We also do plan to provide answers to a few posted comments that address unique issues separately. Regardless of what fee is charged, we would again like to note that this is a productive conversation. The community that this proposal serves is responsible email senders. The comments received, even if they are critical of our proposal, demonstrate that responsible senders of email can engage in a dialog that serves to better the community. We invite comments on our response and are confident that a reasoned discussion will demonstrate that this proposal is a sound solution for the community.
The Anti-Spam Community Registry Team