DENIC Obtains ICANN Accreditation as New gTLD Data Escrow Agent

DENIC logoDENIC has been accredited as an Escrow Agent under ICANN’s new gTLD programme and thus officially authorised to operate a back-up storage service for the business data of domain registries (Registry Data Escrow, RyDE), the German ccTLD registry announced today.

Following ICANN’s approval, DENIC became one of nine so-called Authorised New gTLD Data Escrow Agents as of 6 June. Three of these are resident in Europe. However, DENIC is the sole agent who, by special agreement with ICANN, is able to offer its escrow service both in compliance with the applicable European data protection regulations and in a manner that allows the place of jurisdiction for the contractual relationship between the registry customer and DENIC to be chosen freely by the parties.

The accreditation is part of several registries diversifying the services they provide on the back of declining growth rates, but not an actual decline, in registrations for many ccTLDs. Some such as the .ca registry operator has begun to provide backend registry services for .pt and .nz, and Nominet (.uk) provide registry services for new gTLDs and SIDN (.nl) has begun to diversify into other services within the Dutch market, some of which will be made available and beneficial to their registrars and registrants.

After the prior consent on framework conditions reached in March this year regarding DENIC’s escrow services for registrars (Registrar Data Escrow, RDE), the recent agreement between ICANN and DENIC represents another milestone. This agreement was the final step towards DENIC’s accreditation. The compliance process to verify that its systems meet all the technical and operational requirements for providing the RyDE service was successfully completed by DENIC in 2016.

Individual registry customer can decide upon contract conclusion whether potential disputes between them and DENIC shall be resolved by a German state court or by a Swiss court of arbitration. ICANN, who is the third party beneficiary to the contract, can enforce their rights vis-à-vis DENIC only in front of a Swiss arbitration court. There are no rules as to the applicable law in the contract. In the case of German customers, it be governed by German law.

As a neutral, not-for-profit cooperative, DENIC is neither a registrar nor a gTLD (backend) operator, and so does not compete with the potential customers of its Escrow Service. More than 20 years of experience in operating one of the largest TLD zones worldwide (.de) with over 16 million DUM today make DENIC one of the leading experts in domain management, at an international level. State-of-the art cryptography and multiple redundancies safeguard the secure transmission and storage of all domain registration data. Storage will be exclusively in data centres located in Europe (i.e. in Germany and the Netherlands), in compliance with European data protection regulations. Besides, DENIC’s certifications according to ISO/IEC 27001:2013 ISMS and ISO 22301:2012 BCMS standards guarantee maximum information security and availability.

Data Escrow is the act of storing data and information with a neutral third party in order to be held in custody by them. This measure is meant to ensure that business activities can be continued by an independent party in case of failure or insolvency of the registry or registrar, on the basis of the data stored as an external back-up copy. Domain data is also rated to be such type of relevant business data. ICANN therefore requires all its accredited registrars and registries to regularly deposit a copy of their generic domain (gTLD) registration data with an independent escrow agent. In case a registrar or registry no longer being in the position to provide its services, these data can then be handed over to a designated partner to be defined by ICANN and registrants are enabled to prove they are the registrant of a domain.

Due to the more stringent German and European data protection regulations, German and European registries have a growing desire to avoid transmitting their customers’ data to the USA or any place outside the German/European judicial area. Like DENIC’s RDE service for registrars already in place, DENIC’s new RyDE service now also offers gTLD registries, in particular those domiciled in Europe, a perfect solution to meet their escrow obligations towards ICANN within the European legal framework by using an escrow agent based within the European Union, and makes it thus unnecessary for them to transfer their data to a country outside of the EU.