Public Interest Registry’s General Counsel Brian Cimbolic has laid out a new two-step appeal process for their .org top-level domain under their Anti-Abuse Policy in a post on the registry blog. Under the new appeals process registrants who believe their .org domain names have been suspended unfairly can contact PIR and then appeal to a neutral third party. The goal is to help build confidence in a safer, stronger DNS.
Public Interest Registry, Cimbolic explains, is committed to serving as an “exemplary registry” for the DNS. This included the Anti-Abuse Principles that were published last year that serve as “our north star to address questions of abuse.”
The new two-step process means any registrant may contact PIR if they think PIR made a mistake in taking action under their Anti-Abuse Policy. Through this informal process, which has no fee, Cimbolic explains, PIR has reversed several suspensions when presented with new information or information that a domain name was compromised at the time it engaged in DNS Abuse. This free review is built in as a prerequisite to the Appeal process so registrants may have the suspension reversed prior to incurring any cost associated with the formal registrant Appeals process.
Beyond that informal step, PIR is also instituting a new solution that creates new rights for .ORG registrants: The right to appeal a suspension under their Anti-Abuse Policy to a neutral third party. This appeal mechanism will be administered by Forum, previously the National Arbitration Forum. While Forum charges $1,200 per case, PIR will subsidise $700 of the fee and then reimburse the other $500 if the appeal is successful.
“In formulating this neutral-party appeals process, PIR sought out a number of perspectives and voices, from our Advisory Council to Article19 and the Danish Institute for Human Rights to the members of several ICANN constituencies (including the ALAC, BC, GAC, NCUC and the Registrar Stakeholder Group) and the Internet and Jurisdiction (I&J) Policy Network.”
“The creation of this Appeals process is consistent with both the guidance I&J has offered in the past, encouraging contracted parties to offer public appeal mechanisms, and the recommendations of Article19 and the Danish Institute for Human Rights which urged a redress mechanism for registrants.”
Cimbolic also addresses DNS Abuse, an issue of growing importance in the domain name community as a way of background for the appeals process.
“As PIR has stated on many occasions, generally speaking the DNS is not the appropriate place to address questions of website content abuse because of the blunt tool we as a registry have and the collateral damage that can be caused by suspending a domain name for a piece of content. That is why our Anti-Abuse Policy primarily focuses on DNS Abuse rather than website content abuse. That said, there are limited instances of website content that can be so egregious that they require action at the DNS. In 2019, we suspended thousands of domains related to DNS Abuse, but suspended only eleven over website content (8 for distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials and 3 for being dedicated to distribution of opioids online). One of the cornerstones of our Anti-Abuse Principles is the commitment to due process.”
PIR and Cimbolic are aware “that with every new mechanism like this, there will be a spectrum of views.” Cimbolic writes “We welcome it and are proud of what we are creating here. We listened to the feedback we received and made improvements to the process as a result, including making it more digestible by publishing the two Appeal process companion documents: the FAQs and visual timeline of the process.”
“Make no mistake, launching this mechanism does not mean that PIR is expanding its Anti-Abuse Policy and that we are going to start acting on more ‘content’ referrals. This simply creates a new right for registrants to have a neutral party hear their appeal for a suspension for abuse.”
“PIR is focused on anti-abuse because we know the impact of a healthy domain industry: the introduction of more and stronger mission-driven organisations and people devoting their efforts to make their communities, and therefore the world, a better place. PIR believes with our anti-abuse principles combined with a timely and transparent process for registrants to appeal suspensions, we have found the delicate balance that can give the community confidence in a safer, strong DNS.”