Joe Biden’s comment to the Tangerine Toddler (yes, that’s Donald Trump) in this week’s presidential “debate” of “will you shut up man” is up for sale, including the domain name along with a range of merchandise seeking to capitalise on the comment.
Although the European Union already has a lot on its hands as it confronts a new wave of COVID-19 infections and seeks to position itself for a sustainable recovery, it must not ignore another crisis looming on the horizon. The bloc is rapidly and inexcusably falling behind China and America in the digital transition.
Last week Neustar was awarded a contract to continue operating the .us registry until 2029, which Neustar views as a âvote of confidenceâ in their âwork thus far with .US, as well as the expertise and capabilities of our team and our infrastructure.â Domain Pulse spoke to Nicolai Bezsonoff, Vice President and General Manager of Registry Solutions at Neustar about what the announcement means to Neustar, the importance of security not just with .us but with all their TLDs, combatting abuse, reaching target audiences and how to combat .com in the US.
Domain Pulse: This contract will take Neustarâs operation as the .us registry past 20 years and in many ways itâs been a silent success. What are Neustarâs plans to continue .usâ growth during the next many years?
Nicolai Bezsonoff: Weâre really proud of the long-standing relationship and productive partnership we have built with the NTIA, and weâre thrilled to have received this vote of confidence in our work thus far with .US, as well as the expertise and capabilities of our team and our infrastructure.
That said, weâre certainly not resting on our laurels. As we have done for many years, the next phase of .US will involve a continual cycle of innovating and investment to expand our markets, refine our messaging, implement creative marketing campaigns, engage more deeply with our community, stay abreast of the latest opportunities in marketing and digital, and form meaningful, productive partnerships with organizations that can help us spread awareness and inspire use of the .US domain.
More broadly, over the last few years Neustar Registry has been investing heavily in its DNS and DDoS mitigation capabilities as well as policies and procedures to tackle domain abuse and other cybersecurity concerns, in collaboration with experts and authorities around the world. Our emphasis on security is in turn helping us build a more resilient, robust and trustworthy Registry offering for all our TLDs, .US included, and I suspect is a big part of the reason why other ccTLDs such as .IN and .CO also trust Neustar to protect their critical infrastructure.
This innovation in how we operate and market .US, as well as continually securing and improving performance of our Registry and our TLDs, will ensure the continued value of .US domains for our Registrants â ultimately encouraging loyalty and driving new registrations.
DP: .us has had to compete for awareness against generic top-level domains, particularly .com but also .net and many of the new gTLDs â how have you made .us stand out and be noticed when .com in particular is all many Americans think of?
NB: Thatâs a really fair question â and to be honest, itâs something that all Registries face in some way or another. Particularly with the increased competition created by new TLDs but even outside this; when there is a choice for consumers to make, then you have to offer something the others donât. And in truth, that is one of the biggest challenges for our industry.
Firstly, to address .com â it is the dominant industry player for many reasons â most obviously that it had a massive first mover advantage. The .com domain had already been successfully deployed in the United States for many years before the .US country code TLD ever launched.
What weâve always aimed to do with .US, and will continue to be a key focus moving forward, is to give American consumers an alternative that ticks a few additional boxes. The same logic applies to new TLDs â one of the main goals of the new TLD program was to provide greater consumer choice, and that simply means we need to build a strategy that makes .US a strong and convincing choice for our target market. Choice is ultimately a good thing for our industry, benefiting our customers and keeping us as Registry Operators accountable while also driving creativity and innovation.
Getting a certain domain at a certain price is only one part of the picture, and while some customers will only want to look at this, for those wanting to explore their options then weâre proud to offer a namespace that is stable and authoritative. Weâve worked hard (and will continue to do so) to make sure .US is one of the safest, most secure and trusted domains in the world. This includes everything from our leading and continually-evolving DNS and DDoS capabilities, to our proactive work regarding domain name and DNS abuse. We believe this kind of development and innovation provides additional layers of service to .US domain registrants that perhaps you wonât get from other namespaces that charge a dollar a domain.
Beyond this, while itâs not a ânewâ TLD, .US still has drastically fewer domains registered than .com which means greater availability of meaningful names. And even though .com is fairly synonymous with U.S. websites, .US has the branding advantage of actually having âUSâ in the domain itself, which is a primary selling point for many of our Registrants.
The last point Iâll make, but a very important one, is that we also have a fantastic marketing team that works very hard to spread awareness, growth and use of the .US domain, and weâre continually developing new, creative campaigns to broaden our market and reach new customers.
DP: Many ccTLDs around the world are struggling for growth â maintaining registrations but finding the market somewhat saturated. How has Neustar found the market for .us?
NB: Finding a target market for a ccTLD like .US is both a blessing and a curse â technically the entire United States is our potential audience, but realistically we need to be strategic about who weâre speaking to and what message they want to hear.
Over many years weâve developed a âmicro-targetingâ approach, focusing on specific, targetable audience groups and crafting dedicated messaging for each, then reaching them through really pinpointed channels and platforms.
The â.US marketâ contains everything from small business (really our bread-and-butter), to political candidates and activists, to community organizations and causes.
That said, we have to remain innovative and nimble to keep up. One approach we developed to grow new markets was to lean into using .US in reference to the word âusâ rather than just an acronym for the United States. From this, weâve found a new and engaged audience in both families registering domains for family websites or email addresses, and engaged couples finding a creative address for their wedding website.
My colleague, Lori Anne Wardi, recently wrote an article in Domain Name Wire that shares more of the specifics about .US marketing [which is available here].
Building a strong product that is differentiated from our competitors is one thing, but ensuring weâre deliberate and targeted in the way we promote .US is another key part of the equation if we want to ensure the continued success of .US.
DP: Over the last 18 years Neustar has managed .us, what have been some of the highlights?
NB: When it comes to the internet, 18 is a lot of years! I think of internet years a lot like dog years, every 1 year is really equal to more like 7 years of change and evolution. Some of my favorite highlights during this (very long) time have been:
- Being given the honor 18 years ago to work side by side with the U.S. Government to run this unique public resource and critical piece of internet infrastructure representing the United States of America;
- Hitting the 1 million â then the 2 million — domain names under management milestones â and knowing that we were able to achieve these numbers by safely and responsibly growing the namespace;
- Despite operating in a far more competitive and complex market since the launch of the new gTLD program, continuing to grow the number of .us domain names under management by tapping into new and creative markets;
- The effective launch of the .US Stakeholder Council in 2014, and today, effectively operating the .US domain as a multi-stakeholder endeavor, with the support and engagement of both internal and external stakeholders (including domain name organizations, consumer groups, industry organizations, registrars, the U.S. Government, law enforcement agencies and global internet users, etc.);
- Very recently, partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the DOC to build proactive measures to address the sale of illegal opioids in the .US namespace, and in other TLDs too;
- Our many creative marketing campaigns weâve run for the .US domain â Iâve loved so many of them, but last year we launched my absolute favorite, The Story of .US video campaign. You can watch it on the about.us website here: www.about.us/whos-on-us;
- And of course, I must confess that a highlight of our time managing the .US domain was getting the great news that our contract would be renewed!
DP: Looking ahead, what changes and initiatives are you planning for .us?
NB: Fundamentally, the success of .US so far has taught us some valuable lessons in what works, and what doesnât, and weâre lucky to have an established reputation, strong industry partnerships and an engaged customer base â so weâre certainly not in favor of âchange for the sake of changeâ.
That said, as Iâve mentioned, we are always open to innovation and experimentation to remain secure, fresh and relevant. Specifically for the .US domain, we have a number of upcoming campaigns for new âmicro-targetâ audiences (canât give away too many details just yet!). As part of this weâre implementing a really broad range of marketing activities â everything from podcasts to eBooks to video to event sponsorships to make sure weâre reaching our audiences on the platforms and channels they actually use.
Ultimately, our overarching goals are to drive meaningful increases in consumer awareness of the .US Top-Level Domain, to generate new registrations, and to inspire development and usage through our end-to-end marketing campaign strategies.
Weâre excited to continue driving .US brand affinity and awareness for everyone with a dream, idea or business made for the USA.
As part of an international operation, Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) seized 33,654 domain names distributing counterfeit and pirated items online. This takes the total to more than one million that have been seized in the past 12 months. Continue reading Over 33,000 Domain Names Seized Selling Counterfeit Goods in Latest Operation In Our Sites
Neustar and the usTLD Stakeholder Council will hold a virtual .US Public Stakeholder Town Hall Meeting on Thursday November 29, 2018 at 11AM ET. The Town Hall will provide an opportunity for the community to hear from the .US team on the 2018 developments and for community discussions on how to build and grow the .US domain to meet the demands of the future.
Please take a moment and register here for the Town Hall.
In addition to an âopen floor,â where your thoughts, suggestions and questions can be addressed, we plan to focus on two key topics:
- Marketing and .US: The Voice of .US
- 2018 Policy Year in Review and Whatâs ahead: Our Policy Recommendations, The world of GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act and More
The meeting will take place virtually, and details will be circulated to all registered participants in advance of the meeting. If youâre interested in the .US domain space or internet growth and trends, you donât want to miss this discussion. Register now.Â
UPDATE: This posted was updated on 9 November after Domain Pulse was advised the agenda was changed to delete a discussion on “a place for the next generation: kids and participation in .US” so more time can be spent on the remaining 2 agenda items.
Preserving WHOIS has become of the 2 main priorities internationally for the U.S. government’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration with fears the service may go “dark and become a relic of the Internet's history.” Continue reading U.S. Govt’s NTIA Has Preservation of WHOIS As Priority With Concerns It May Go Dark
Companies letting their domain names expire are often finding e-shops are re-registering their domain names and using them to market trademark infringing, or counterfeit, goods. But there’s no correlation between the use of the domain name prior to the e-shop and what the e-shop sells.
The study by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) [pdf], through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, was on online business models used to infringe intellectual property rights. The study found when domain names were available for re-registration the entities operating the e-shops would systematically re-register the domain names and shortly after set up e-shops marketing goods suspected of infringing upon the trademarks of others. It was a characteristic that the prior use of the domain names was completely unrelated to the goods being marketed on the suspected e-shops. There were examples of domain names previously used by politicians, foreign embassies, commercial businesses and many other domain name registrants.
The study was conducted in 2 phases. Phase one looked at .dk (Denmark) from October 2014 to October 2015. During this period 566 .dk domains were re-registered by suspected infringers of trademarks immediately after the domain names had been given up by their previous registrants and became available for re-registration. Phase 2 looked at Sweden, which as a Scandinavian country would be assumed comparable with Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom, which have very well-developed and large e-commerce sectors, and a country with a large e-commerce sector in southern Europe, Spain.
Phase 2 found the same phenomenon previously documented in Denmark also occurs in the Swedish, German, British and Spanish ccTLDs.
According to the study, the “total number of detected e-shops suspected of infringing the trade marks of others using a domain name under the ccTLD” ranged from 2.9% in .de (Germany) to 9.5% in .se (Sweden) while the “total number of detected e-shops suspected of infringing the trade marks of others using a domain name under the ccTLD where the domain name had been previously used by another registrant” ranged from 71.1 % of suspected e-shops in .uk (United Kingdom) to 81.0% in .es (Spain). The average was 5.41% across all ccTLDs in the study and 75.35% respectively.
Based on the research, the researchers believe it must be considered likely that the same also occurs in other European countries with well-developed e-commerce sectors.
An analysis of the 27,970 e-shops in the study identified a number of patterns including shoes were the product category most affected, accounting for two-thirds (67.5%) of the suspected e-shops and then clothes, accounting for 20.6%, while 94.6% of the detected suspected e-shops used the same specific e-commerce software.
Additionally, 40.78 % of the detected suspected e-shops in Sweden and the United Kingdom were registered through the same registrar, 21.3 % of all the e-shops used the same name server and a quarter (25.9%) of the suspected e-shops had the hosting provider located in Turkey, 19.3 % in the Netherlands and 18.3 % in the United States.
Even if the domain name was previously used for the marketing of goods, the study found the current e-shops were marketing a different type of product at the time of analysis. The study examined 40 case studies that indicated the sole reason for re-registration of the domain names is to benefit from the popularity of the website that was previously identified by the domain name. The benefits would include search engine indexing, published reviews of services and/or products and links from other websites that have not yet taken the current use into consideration. The case studies used also indicate a high degree of affiliation between the e-shops is likely. The research seems to indicate that what on the surface seems like thousands of unrelated e-shops are likely to be one or a few businesses marketing trade mark infringing goods to European consumers.
The 140 page study is available for download from:
The Federal Communications Commission hit a U.S. communications with penalties totalling almost $3 million last week following a preventable service outage that affected a communications service utilised by Americans with disabilities, and all because the company failed to renew their domain name in 2016.
The FCC reached a settlement with Sorenson Communications following the outage with the company agreeing to provide enhanced notices to consumers during outages, and pay $2.7 million to reimburse the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund and a $252,000 penalty.
Video relay service, a form of telecommunications relay service, enables people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled to make calls over broadband through intermediaries using American Sign Language and video equipment. VRS is funded through the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund.
To qualify for reimbursement, VRS providers must comply with the Communications Act and FCC rules, which require that services be able at all times to handle any type of call normally provided by carriers, including 911 calls.
In 2016, Sorenson failed to renew its domain name, and on 6 June, Sorensonâs websiteâs domain registration was deactivated. As a result, consumersâ calls made through this domain failed to connect, resulting in a service outage.
Service was not fully restored until 8 June. The Commissionâs investigation found the outage was preventable. The FCCâs Enforcement Bureau investigated this incident and reached todayâs settlement with the company.
The corporate headquarters for .CLUB in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were wiped out by Hurricane Irma in recent days, but there has been no impact on technical operations, which are managed by Neustar in Virginia (and ZDNS/KNET in China).
The building had large parts of the roof been torn away, exposing the office to devastating wind and rain, pretty much ruining everything. It will be business as usual for the Florida .CLUB team, but theyâll have to find a new place to temporarily hang their collective hats. More importantly, all employees are safe and sound, with relatively minimal issues.
âLiterally, it looks like a bomb went off. I couldnât believe the damage. Itâs truly a sad day for our company. We feel for everyone affected by this horrible storm and we are very fortunate as all our staff are safe,â said Colin Campbell, Founder, and CEO of .CLUB Domains.
The standalone building in the up and coming Progresso/Flagler area has recently been approved for funds from the Fort Lauderdale government via the Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to launch a tech incubator under the brand Startups.Club. The building was scheduled to be renovated for completion sometime in 2018.
âMany .CLUB domain names are used by Startups. Creating a working facility specifically to support startups in the Fort Lauderdale community seemed like an ideal fit, in tune with our mission, and the perfect environment to also house our global corporate headquarters.â said Campbell. âIt is unfortunate we have to vacate the premises sooner than expected, but the good news is our plans to renovate and open the Startups.club facility should remain on track,â Campbell added.
âThe company will find a way to operate during this period. We are hoping we can find temporary space near our damaged office. We love the Progresso/Flagler area. Itâs a young creative community with a real fun vibe.â As the registry operator for the new domain name extension .CLUB, while the corporate offices were in the path of Irmaâs destruction, the companyâs technical platform and servers are located in Virginia and were not affected in any way. The company currently employs 17 people and has been working closely with a few Fort Lauderdale startups who will also now need to find temporary facilities until the building is repaired and reconstructed.
There’s an important need for widespread internet education among internet users of all ages and backgrounds following the findings of a survey to test U.S. consumer knowledge and awareness of the internet by the Public Internet Registry, operator of .org among other gTLDs.
But is it so surprising? Most people don’t know how their motor vehicles operate. They just know, to varying degrees, how to drive them. They know how to fill their fuel tanks and usually put air in the tyres. But under the bonnet, or hood, well, forget about it.
So it’s not surprising that only 31% of users could correctly define a “domain name system”, two-thirds (68%) could not identify the decade when the World Wide Web was invented and only 29% of participants correctly identified the meaning of HTTP, with 31 percent admitting outright they did not know the meaning of the term.
According to the survey results, an overwhelming majority (84%) reported that they believed they were “knowledgeable,” however the survey results painted a different picture. For instance, only 20 % of consumers knew the internet and the World Wide Web are not one and the same!
But there are positives. 59% knew a URL was another term for a web address, two-thirds (66%) could identify an domain name from a browser, email address and social media handle and 80% knew that they could find official information from their Congressman under a .gov domain name.
But more awareness is important so people understand, among other issues, the security risks when entering personal and financial information online for websites that don’t use “https”.
To check how knowledgeable you are, there’s an Internet101 quiz here.