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Username: rochford
Date/Time: Sat, March 10, 2001 at 10:20 AM GMT (Sat, March 10, 2001 at 9:20 PM EADT)
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Subject: Transition arrangements for existing .org domain names


                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 - 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."

The letter 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).

For 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 email addresses.

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).

An 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 medium.

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 Jakob Nielsen.

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, The latter option also prevents other registrants from ever using in future.

I believe that providing 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 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 -*)

(*) 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 requirements.

A new namespace, .npo, would be much more suitable for non-profit organisations. In Australia, the namespace was provided for incorporated associations, which includes non-profit organisations. The namespace remains for existing registrants, and for any registrant that does not fit into any of the other namespaces.

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.


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