Although there are a number
of issues raised by the proposal to modify the registry agreements between ICANN
and Verisign, I'd like to limit my comments to one particular area of concern: transition
arrangements for existing .org domain names. I believe that this issue is the pivotal
one in the current proposal.
(Disclosure: I currently operate a .org domain name
for myself and family members - rochford.org. This is an informal, non-profit organisation:
eligible under the current .org registration rules, and eligible - I believe - under
the proposed future rules below.)
Essentially, the proposal talks of "... a .org
registry returned, after some appropriate transition period, to its originally intended
function as a registry operated by and for non-profit organizations."
from VeriSign to ICANN states:
"Among the issues to be determined in this transition
is whether .org should be limited to registrations only by non-commercial entities,
and if so, what transition arrangements need to be established for those existing
registrants that would not qualify under that limitation. ICANN has agreed that,
at a minimum, existing registrants would be permitted to remain in the new .org registry
for one renewal cycle under its new management."
I believe that the only appropriate
transition is that all existing registrants should be grandfathered and allowed to
maintain their existing domain name registration INDEFINITELY (pending payment of
reasonable registration fees and adherence to existing registration policies).
me, and apparently many others, the most important transition arrangement is for
the maintenance and ongoing support of domain-based URIs, including Web URLs and
One of the reasons that I use my own domain is to avoid transition
issues when moving from one ISP to another. These issues include updating printed
URLs, informing friends, family and others of changed email addresses, and arranging
mail forwarding; on the Web site this includes emailing linking sites and asking
them to change URLs listed on their pages (and possibly databases and forums).
example (rather topical, in fact) is the Deja USENET Archive (recently purchased
by Google, Inc). In this archive, USENET postings from many years ago (at one stage
Deja proposed including postings from the late 1970s in their archive) are provided
in a searchable format, allowing some 'permanency' to an essentially conversational
I wish that my email address, using my domain name, should be continually
accessible for the rest of my life. (Indeed, many sellers of domain name registration
- including NSI - suggest that this is a reason for using one.) Additionally, any
other URIs, like HTTP URLs, pending technological advancements, should remain accessible
forever. This is a fundamental principle espoused by many usability experts, including
The only way in which such 'permanency' can be provided is by either
(a) allowing registrants to continue use of their domain or (b) providing transparent
*permanent* redirection to another appropriate name (for example, rochford.name).
The latter option also prevents other registrants from ever using rochford.org in
I believe that providing rochford.org to another registrant in future would
be improper, since email intended for current users could be provided to future users
instead, thereby breaching their privacy. This would prevent rochford.org being used
fully, since a number of email addresses are currently in use and it would be highly
inappropriate to use the same addresses in future.
As the ICANN Web site states,
unique domain names are critical to the structure of the Internet - this implies
that the actual use of these domain names should also be unique.
So, I've provided
my take on 'transitional' arrangements for existing .org domain names - basically
don't transition existing registrations!
If anyone has any questions about my message,
or would like to ask some questions about my proposal, they can feel free to email
me - email@example.com(*)
(*) this address will work until 14 February 2002 -
but no guarantees beyond that date (yet!)
- Miles Rochford.
There is of
course, another possibility - leaving .org alone, and not changing the eligibility
A new namespace, .npo, would be much more suitable for non-profit
organisations. In Australia, the namespace .asn.au was provided for incorporated
associations, which includes non-profit organisations. The .org.au namespace remains
for existing registrants, and for any registrant that does not fit into any of the
Generally, the Australian namespace has grandfathered existing
registrants through future policy changes, to ensure that they may use their domain
names with confidence that they will be accessible in the future.