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ICANN to GAC: Agreement in Principle Reached on New RAA by Philip Corwin

Internet Commerce Association logoOn the afternoon of Tuesday, April 9th, during ICANN’s 46th Public Meeting currently taking place in Beijing, China, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade announced that, following 20 months of negotiations, “agreement in principle” had been reached on a new version of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) to be put into effect immediately for all new and incumbent registrars that wish to sell domain registrations in new gTLDs – and that will eventually be put in place with all other registrars as their current agreements expire. The announcement came during a meeting between ICANN’s Board and its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

According to Chehade, the final agreement gives particular attention to concerns expressed by law enforcement officials, with all of their dozen recommendations being addressed — and the final agreement came to fruition after he personally intervened in negotiations 2.5 months ago.

Major provisions of the final agreement include:

    • Registrant WHOIS data verification
    • An identified abuse point of contact at each registrar
    • Data retention obligations
    • Enhanced ICANN compliance powers
    • Prohibition against a registrar’s direct engagement in cybersquatting
    • Obligations vis-à-vis a registrar’s resellers, including disclosure of their names
    • Linkage to a standard plain language informational document on Registrants’ Rights and Responsibilities
    • A “clear path” for subsequent negotiation and amendment of the RAA
  • Establishment of a unilateral right for ICANN’s Board to amend the RAA for “compelling and significant reasons”

The final language of the RAA has not yet been publicly disclosed and will be subject to public comment before adoption. The Board’s quest for a unilateral right to amend has been particularly controversial, and a similar provision is being sought by ICANN for the New gTLD Registry Agreement (RA), with good faith negotiations still ongoing.

During subsequent discussion, the European Commission (EC) representative on the GAC sought and received confirmation that where the RAA conflicted with applicable law regarding such matters as data privacy and security, that the statute law and regulations would preempt the RAA for registrars subject to  its jurisdiction. It remains to be seen whether this will provide a marketplace advantage to certain registrars among registrants seeking such enhanced protections.

The draft plain language statement of registrants’ rights and responsibilities can be found at . It is still being considered by registrars. While the information it provides is probably well known to domainers, it may be of significant informational value to casual and infrequent domain registrants.

This article by Philip Corwin from the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from: