Squatters and Trolls
Dear ICANN; I am a ten year veteran of operating multiple web sites. All of my web sites are controlled by legitimate corporate entities registered under, and doing busines under, applicable U.S. and/or State laws. In my experience it is very clear that "domain squatters" and "registration expiration trolls" are a huge problem in cyber space. They are a cancer upon the internet. REGISTRATION EXPIRATION TROLLS: Many of my friends who operate legitimate organizations with web sites have been "slammed" by "registration expiration trolls" as follows: The day that the organization's domain name expires, the "registration expiration trolls" snatch the domain name and register it for themselves -- usually plastering the new web page with automated ads for domain registration services as well as other services. In my experience spammers, phishers and expiration trolls fill web site owners' mail boxes with bogus expiration notices which makes it all too easy to forget to renew one's registration. I receive several such bogus expiration notices every month from "cyber slammers" attempting to use dishonest means to get me to switch my domain registrar and/or pay substantially higher registration or renewal fees. Under the current system, the hapless domain owner who forgets to renew or extend their domain name registration -- and which domain is subsequently registered by a troll -- is screwed and apparently does not have any recourse but to rename their site and register a new domain. This is wrong. There should be a clear-cut protocol which strongly favors former owners of expired domain names by which they can easily re-claim their domain names from the trolls (within a reasonable period of time) at no additional cost (except for normal registration fees). REGISTRATION EXPIRATION TROLLS RATED XXX: I also have experience with legitimate organizations whose operations have ceased and whose domain names have been seized by XXX sex sites and other questionable enterprises. This is a huge problem because of the nature of cross-linking on the internet: a legitimate cause or organization may generate hundreds or even thousands of referrals and cross links on dependent web sites. Suddenly one day unsuspecting readers who click on those links and referrals find themselves flooded with undesirable or objectionable content completely unrelated to the original mission of the expired or terminated organization. That is also wrong. CYBER SQUATTERS: Similarly, I myself have been slammed by "cyber squatters" who have somehow or other detected my domain registration inquiries and who have subsequently registered the domain names about which I recently have inquired. For example, I "own" the domain "adversity.net" (meaning I have operated a legitimate web site with that name for the past 10 years). Adversity.Net, Inc. is a registered non-stock corporation and has been granted non-profit, educational status by the U.S. IRS. But 10 years ago (when I registered Adversity.Net) -- and within a week of having researched the availability of "adversity.org" and "adversity.com" -- cyber squatters registered "adversity.com" and "adversity.org". I would prefer to have "adversity.org" but it is currently "parked" on the ad-filled page of a cyber squatter. Similarly, "adversity.com" is being squatted upon by a page which identifies itself as "Network Solutions" and is filled with junk ads. PRIVACY OF REGISTRATION INFO: I am not very concerned about the privacy of the site owner's contact information. A legitimate organization or cause should not be afraid of publishing information regarding their address and telephone number. For those who have privacy or security concerns in this matter they should feel free to establish alternate postal addresses (a P.O. Box, for example) and an alternate telephone number (installing a new, separate phone line, for example). Those are relatively minimal expenses and should not represent an undue burden upon the registered owners of legitimate domain names. Those are my comments. I am hopeful that you can institute reasonable policies and procedures to curb this type of abuse. -- Sincerely, -- Tim Fay -- Adversity.Net, Inc.