Domain Names

17 March 2007

ICANN: we can help Registerfly mess The Register

The landslide of bad news from Registerfly has continued, as ICANN created a forum for dispute resolution for this mess, and Registerfly customers desperately tried to shift their domains to other registrars before they vanished into cyberspace.

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ICANN Public Participation Site Launched ICANN

ICANN has launched a public participation website for its upcoming meeting in Lisbon on 26-30 March 2007. The site is accessible to all at http://public.icann.org and will remain in the same location for future meetings. The participation site is aimed at providing the greatest degree of interaction possible between ICANN, ICANN constituencies and the wider Internet community, and uses the latest online tools to that end. The site will contain a single webpage for each meeting taking place in Lisbon, where all relevant information for that meeting will be made immediately accessible (the schedule has yet to be finalised at time of writing so the site will be populated with this information over the next few days).

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If ICANN't Keep a Contract, Let the Public Enforce It by Wendy Seltzer Circle ID

Earlier in the Registerfly controversy, ICANN Vice President Paul Levins posted to the ICANN Blog, "ICANN is not a regulator. We rely mainly on contract law. We do not condone in any way whatsoever RegisterFly's business practice and behaviour." This is disingenuous. ICANN is the central link in a web of contracts that regulate the business of domain name allocation. ICANN has committed, as a public benefit corporation, to enforcing those contracts in the public interest. Domain name registrants, among others, rely on those contracts to establish a secure, stable environment for domain name registration and through that for online content location.

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U.K. Secondary Domain Name Market Sees a Growth of More than 150% in 2006 - Growth in .co.uk domain value exceeds that of .com (news release) Sedo

Annual statistics for 2006 compiled by domain marketplace Sedo and DNJournal reveal a surge of 153% in the value of all published .CO.UK domain sales worldwide, in comparison to a growth of 79% in 2005. Already one of the world's most expensive online addresses with an average sales value of £2,062.15. The increasing scarcity of quality .CO.UK domains, and the continued recovery in the UK online industry, have steadily driven prices higher in the past years

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Topix.com Sells for $1M Domain Name Wire

The domain name Topix.com sold for $1M in January according to a report in the Wall Street Journal says Domain Name Wire. The new owner is Topix.net, which receives 10M visitors per month. Due to confusion between the .net and .com versions of the domain name led the topix.net to negotiate the purchase of topix.com. Domain Name Wire reports that in the early days of registering domain names, registrants were often unaware of the confusion between .com and .net domains, regularly choosing to type in the .com domain and not considering .net. In a blog posting on Skrentablog, the owner of topix.net, and now topix.com, noted they knew they were going against one of the rules for registering a domain name, that being never register anything but a .com domain. But for various reasons they thought it may not matter to them. But when the first news story went out in March 2004, while the article referred to topix.net, a caption under the photo mistakenly referred to topix.com. While their name grew, people often went to the .com website, or typed .com in email addresses. Focus groups showed people liked the name “topix” but found .net a turn-off. So after much discussion with the board, who were supportive, moves were made negotiate the purchase of topix.com.

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16 March 2007

Two RegisterFly Sites Online as Ousted CEO Returns Netcraft

"ICANN is continuing to press RegisterFly to repair its management systems so domain owners can manage their names, but is now dealing directly with company founder Kevin Medina, who has been awarded control of RegisterFly by a New Jersey court" according to a Netcraft story. "ICANN met Saturday with Medina to demand immediate action on RegisterFly's failure to provide adequate WHOIS information and make critical transfer codes (known as auth-info codes) available to customers." Netcraft also noted the task for ICANN appears to be more difficult with two Registerfly websites operating - registerfly.com and registerfly.net. ICANN has also stated that Registerfly has not provided registrant, administrative contact, technical contact, or other registrar-level Whois data, instead reporting only registry-level data. Registerfly has been told to correct this problem and report back. The failure to do so effectively prohibits all registrants of .com and .net names from transferring out.

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The Real Problem with dot-XXX by Michael Roberts Circle ID

Michael Roberts responds to Milton Mueller's recent article (see below) on .xxx approval process. Roberts says that if the issue was money, "ICANN would have been bought, or not bought, by now and the fuss would be over." Roberts sees "something more fundamental at stake." Roberts quotes from report of the U.S. Congressional Research Service, in part noting "The Supreme Court, however, has held that the First Amendment does not protect two types of pornography: obscenity and child pornography." He notes "herein lies the quandary. As a long list of indictments and successful prosecutions attest, Web-based pornography frequently slides into criminality." With "the freedom and openness of the net" new frontiers in predatory behaviour have been established "across state and national lines, to the point that in the US, it takes a joint federal-state task force of lawyers, net experts, FBI agents and local police to try to keep up with the illegal behaviour of a pathological fringe." Roberts says it comes down to a morals contest - on one side are the free expression advocates, such as Milton and on "the other side are those who wonder how ICANN could have gotten itself entangled in a tawdry business that not infrequently preys on innocent youngsters and enjoys a lot of profit at the same time." Roberts concludes "Is the current ICANN Board going to hide behind process, or is it going to fulfill its own pledge of transparency and take sides on the morality of dot-xxx?"

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Domain name chaos needs measured response ZDNet

ZDNet, in response to a WIPO report below that notes the "number of cybersquatting disputes filed with WIPO in 2006 increased by 25%", comment that there are some rules to improve the situation, such as "A grace period after a lapse would let active users react in time to save the situation, while harming no-one. A ban on automated domain harvesting, while hard to define and police, would encourage the development of saner management and provide some comeback against the worst of the offenders. And a better way of telling domain owners that a domain is due to lapse would be helpful -- the automated warning emails currently used are too easy to lose in the spam tsunami."

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Microsoft hits 'cybersquatters' BBC

Microsoft is pursuing five alleged UK-based cybersquatters in its battle against firms and individuals who have registered variations or misspellings of its key brands, such as Xbox.

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15 March 2007

Coming to terms with the language of cybersquatting Financial Times

The Financial Times provides a handy guide defining cybersquatting, typosquatting, domainer, dropcatcher, domain tasting and domain parking.

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McAfee Reveals List of Riskiest Country Web Sites for Malicious Downloads, Browser Exploits and Unwanted E-Mail (news release) McAfee Site Advisor

McAfee has released its SiteAdvisor research report “that creates a global road map of the riskiest, and the safest, places to surf and search”. The report found the ten safest TLDs are .gov (safest), .fi, .ie, .no, .is, .se, .au, .co, .sg and .si. The riskiest TLDs are .tk (riskiest), info, .ws, .ro, .com, .biz, .ru, .net, .name and .sk. The report noted cheap domain name registration is driving the growth in spam where .ro (5.6% risky sites) and .ru (4.5% risky sites) sites are among the TLDs most commonly hosting malicious downloads, browser exploits, and scams. Further, giving ones email address to a .info website gives an amazing 73.2% chance of receiving spam.

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14 March 2007

Cybersquatting remains on the rise with further risk to trademarks from new registration practices (news release) WIPO

The number of cybersquatting disputes filed with WIPO in 2006 increased by 25% as compared to 2005. In a related development, the evolution of the domain name registration system is causing growing concern for trademark owners, in particular some of the effects of the use of computer software to automatically register expired domain names and their 'parking' on pay-per-click portal sites, the option to register names free-of-charge for a five-day 'tasting' period, the proliferation of new registrars, and the establishment of new gTLDs. The combined result of these developments is to create greater opportunities for the mass, often anonymous, registration of domain names without specific consideration of third-party intellectual property rights.

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13 March 2007

Are We Slowly Losing Control of the Internet? By Karl Auerbach Circle ID

Karl Auerbach is concerned about how the evolving internet "would be managed, monitored, diagnosed, or repaired" with there being a lack of discussion on these issues. He gives an example of VOIP-SIP, noting it's too complex and the basic encoding a mess. He comments that with history to use as a guide in many fields, "that in this internet age that we might have learned that clarity of internet protocol design is a great virtue and that management, diagnostics, and security are not afterthoughts but primary design goals." In this article Karl is concerned about internet stability and foresees "a future internet in which people involved in management, troubleshooting, and repair are engaged in a Sisyphean effort to provide service in the face of increasingly non-unified design of internet protocols. And in that future, users will have to learn to expect outages and become accustomed to dealing with service provider customer service 'associates' whose main job is to buy time to keep customers from rioting while the technical repair team tries to figure out what happened, where it happened, and what to do about it."

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Judge Rules for Ousted Registerfly CEO Business Week

Business Week has a story on the legal decision last week that Business Week reports "stunned even the lawyers for" Kevin Medina. Business Week notes that it wasn't immediately clear what effect the decision would have on RegisterFly's future or the 200,000 domain name holders who use RegisterFly. John Naruszewicz, Medina's longtime business partner and successor as CEO, and "one of the two who had fired Medina and taken control of the company, doesn't plan to appeal the judge's decision. 'We lost and it's all over,' he says. 'The company will implode in days and 1 million domain names are going to be lost. It's a damned shame.'" Further, Business Week reported "After listening to about 45 minutes of testimony and spending 40 minutes reviewing documents, Judge Sheriden ruled that Medina owned the company."

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New shield foiled Internet backbone attack CNet

CNET reports that the February denial of service attack on the DNS "had little effect, thanks to new protection technology, according to a report released by ICANN." The article largely quotes from last week's ICANN report on the attack.

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International domain names succeed in testing ZDNet

ZDNet runs a story on last week's ICANN announcement on IDNs noting that the tests were successful.

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DNS Attack: Possible Botnet Sales Pitch Dark Reading

Dark Reading's report on the ICANN fact sheet regarding last month's denial of service attack also largely quotes from the fact sheet. Dark Reading quotes David Ulevitch, CEO of OpenDNS and EveryDNS who says "They mentioned that it might be someone trying to show the 'strength' of their botnet-for-hire,' Ulevitch says. 'Not a test-run for a larger attack against the roots [themselves], but a way for an attacker to show the disruptive potential of their botnet to someone who might purchase it from them to cause harm against other less fortified victims.' Ulevitch also "says another attack on the DNS root servers is likely, but it shouldn't 'destabilize' DNS root operations." Dark Reading concludes wondering "whether the recommendations for thwarting future DNS infrastructure attacks will fall on deaf ears". "'Getting ISPs to implement source filtering and turning of open-recursive lookups has been an ongoing battle for many years -- and one with only limited success,' says Craig Labovitz, director of engineering at Arbor Networks. 'And while reflective attacks provide an easy way for zombies to attack [and] multiply firepower, it is not clear reflection played a significant role in the most recent attacks.'" Further, "Labovitz says he agrees with the ICANN report that massively replicating servers and anycast is the best plan for now."

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Reminder on 2007 Nom Com Positions ICANN

This is a reminder that the 2007 ICANN Nominating Committee is inviting Statements of Interest on three open positions for the ICANN Board of Directors, two members of the GNSO Council, one member of the ccNSO and three members of the At-Large Advisory Committee. Statements of Interest are due by 1 May 2007.

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XXX Comes to a Head posted by Milton Mueller Circle ID

Milton Mueller is critical of ICANN in the .xxx approval process. Milton notes he is "beginning to think that ICANN's approach to TLD approval was cooked up by a demented sergeant from Abu Ghraib." Milton writes about what he sees as a prolonged process where "ICANN tells ICM registry, the company applying for the domain, something is wrong with its application and something more needs to be done to get approval. ICM registry dutifully goes off and does what was asked. And then ICANN thinks of something else that is wrong, something else it has to do." Milton claims that heading into what should be the final approval stage a few ICANN board members are "leaning in a negative direction". The reason for Milton is the campaign organised by a group of pornographers, which has led some board members to wonder if the proposed TLD has community support. But, Milton says, "ICANN already decided, more than a year ago, that ICM Registry had sufficient support from the relevant 'community' to be classified as a sponsored domain. The test for sponsorship was part of the original process. So that issue is over. Or should be." Milton then asks why is this happening. He claims "The answer is that ICANN's processes are so arbitrary and political that any issue can be opened and reopened at any time, for any reason - regardless of the defined process. The answer is that ICANN's completely discretionary, beauty contest approach to TLD selection casts it adrift on a sea of politics, so that the slightest shift in the winds causes it to change direction. The answer is that ICANN will do anything to avoid making a controversial decision." So, according to Milton, "the Board members and CEO seem truly directionless, a couple of flotsam and jetsam bobbing about in a political sea. They simply do not understand how deeply they are sapping ICANN's credibility and stature in the world by making (non)decisions in this way. To live up to its role as a global governance institution, ICANN needs to have clear, objective decision making criteria and to stand up for principles. The path of arbitrariness ICANN is on leads to only one end result: litigation." Milton concludes that "The issue here is very simple. ICM Registry met all the criteria ICANN set out in its request for applications back in 2003. It passed all the tests ICANN said in advance it was going to require applicants to meet. It even passed all the tests the US government and the GAC imposed after the process was supposed to be over. That should be the end of the story."

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Moniker Domain Name Auction Rakes in $4.3M Domain Wire

The live domain name auction yesterday in Las Vegas resulted in $4.3M in sales; more to come in silent auction.

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12 March 2007

Ex Registerfly CEO Regains Control The Whir

The Whir, on RegisterFly, reports "Medina has less than a week to right the ship, as ICANN filed notice with Registerfly February 21 that the company had until March 14 to fix its operations or lose its accreditation as a registrar."

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11 March 2007

Judge Rules for Ousted Registerfly CEO Business Week

In a legal decision that stunned even the lawyers for the victor, a U.S. District Court judge on Mar. 8 handed over the embattled Web registrar Registerfly.com to the executive who was running it when it began to founder. Judge Peter Sheridan ruled in favor of defendant Kevin Medina, who had been chief executive of the parent company, Unifiednames, before he was fired by two other board members on Feb. 12.

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New shield foiled Internet backbone attack CNet

An attack in early February on key parts of the backbone of the Internet had little effect, thanks to new protection technology, according to a report released by ICANN.

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International domain names succeed in testing ZDNet

Internationalized domain names have moved a step closer to reality, following ICANN's announcement that it had successfully completed testing.

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XXX Comes to a Head posted by Milton Mueller Circle ID

Just when you thought the .xxx affair couldn't get any worse, it does. I'm beginning to think that ICANN's approach to TLD approval was cooked up by a demented sergeant from Abu Ghraib.

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