Changes to the Transfer Policy
Network Solutions believes that the Transfer Policy should be amended in two important ways. First, customers should affirmatively confirm their authorization to transfer a domain name before it goes forward. Second, in the case of slamming - or the unauthorized transfer of a domain name - there should be an expedited process to return domain name registrations back to the original registrar. As Panix.com and other recent incidents show, slamming is a malignant problem in the domain name registration industry. Unfortunately, ICANN's new transfer policy only exacerbates the slamming problem by requiring registrars to transfer a name to a new registrar even if their customers haven't confirmed with them that they actually want to transfer. Why shouldn't ICANN require registrars to seek and receive their own customers' consent before transferring registrars? The new policy removes the customers' most commonly used method to prevent fraudulent transfers - a required response. Considering the costs associated with slamming, a mere no-response should not be a sufficient basis to transfer a customer. Slamming a domain name is a much more disruptive and costly experience for customers than even slamming a customer's telecommunications service. As we saw with Panix.com, many individuals and businesses were without their e-mail services for long periods of time. Thousands of e-mails were lost forever. At a minimum, this kind of activity is disruptive for individuals and could be crippling for businesses. Who pays for these costs? This activity exposes a liability for gaining registrars, as well as losing registrars if steps are not taken to protect their customers. We just hear about the high profile slamming activity. Considering that a majority of customers only have one domain name, what happens to them if they are slammed? There isn't a public outcry to transfer back the names. Absent expedited procedures to return wrongfully transferred names, these customers, whose livelihoods may be at risk, are at the mercy of the very registrars that slammed them in the first place to return their domain names quickly. It is a painful process for customers to retrieve their names, often involving litigation. Network Solutions' Chairman and CEO, Champ Mitchell, warned ICANN in writing of the very incidents of slamming that we have seen unfold in the first two months of the policy. See http://www.icann.org/correspondence/mitchell-to-twomey-25mar04.pdf. With this concern in mind, we have taken steps to protect our customers by automatically adding our Domain Protect service for virtually all of our customers at no additional charge. The service is easy to turn off if customers want to, but we recommend that customers keep it turned on as an added level of security against slamming. Customers have other arrows in their quivers that can be used to protect themselves against slamming, including setting up separate user IDs and password for all domain contacts, ensuring that account contact information is accurate, and carefully review all information received about domain name registrations. In order to preserve and enhance the reliability of the Domain Name System, ICANN needs to protect customers from unscrupulous or negligent gaining registrars (or their resellers) that can violate the policy and slam customers. ICANN also should help to mitigate the damage to customers by expediting the return of slammed names. ICANN should reconsider its policy that a lack of response is sufficient to confirm a transfer, and enact new procedures for customers to seek the return of their slammed domain names.