Tag Archives: Michele Neylon

ICANN and the “Farcical” Waiver Requirements for ICANN74

The upcoming ICANN74 to be held both virtually and in-person in The Hague in June has some rather strange legalese when it comes to those attending regarding to COVID-19. There are some of the usual to be expected conditions such as to be vaccinated, wearing face masks and so on. But one that has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest is the requirement of attendees to sign a liability waiver [pdf].

Continue reading ICANN and the “Farcical” Waiver Requirements for ICANN74

German Court Rejects ICANN Bid to “Protect” WHOIS Data

In a bid to “to protect the data collected in WHOIS”, ICANN last week sought a court ruling in a German court to “ensure the continued collection of all WHOIS data, so that such data remains available to parties demonstrating legitimate purpose to access it, consistent with the GDPR.”

The “one-sided filing” in Bonn, Germany, was against German registrar EPAG, these days part of the Tucows group. EPAG had recently informed ICANN that it would no longer collect administrative and technical contact information for generic top level domain name registrations as it believes collection of that data would violate the GDPR rules, and further, it wasn’t needed.

EPAG had advised ICANN it no longer intended to collect such data, citing the GDPR law implementation as its rationale. In a statement from their parent company, Tucows, they said they “realised that the domain name registration process, as outlined in ICANN’s 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement, not only required us to collect and share information we didn’t need, it also required us to collect and share people’s information where we may not have a legal basis to do so. What’s more, it required us to process personal information belonging to people with whom we may not even have a direct relationship, namely the Admin and Tech contacts.”

Through its contract with registrars including EPAG, ICANN requires the WHOIS information be collected. In an effort to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, ICANN recently adopted a new Temporary Specification regarding how WHOIS data should be collected and which parts may be published, which ICANN believes is consistent with the GDPR.

The late announcement of the Temporary Specification, a week before the GDPR came into being, already had registrars irate, as they had to have their systems compliant ready for its implementation. Speaking to Domain Pulse at the Domain Pulse conference (unrelated), EPAG’s Managing Director Ashley La Bolle said at EPAG they wished “ICANN had started work on this a year ago. Of course, we will try to accommodate changes, but in absence of new consensus policies, we have to develop solutions that we believe will ensure our own compliance with the law.”

The German court ruled in favour of EPAG, at least in part, ruling it would not require EPAG to collect the administrative and technical data for new registrations. However, the Court did not indicate in its ruling that collecting such data would be a violation of the GDPR. Rather, said ICANN in a statement, the Court said that the collection of the domain name registrant data should suffice in order to safeguard against misuse the security aspects in connection with the domain name (such as criminal activity, infringement or security problems).

The Court reasoned that because it is possible for a registrant to provide the same data elements for the registrant as for the administrative and technical contacts, ICANN did not demonstrate that it is necessary to collect additional data elements for those contacts. The Court also noted that a registrant could consent and provide administrative and technical contact data at its discretion.

“While ICANN appreciates the prompt attention the Court paid to this matter, the Court's ruling today did not provide the clarity that ICANN was seeking when it initiated the injunction proceedings,” said John Jeffrey, ICANN's General Counsel and Secretary. “ICANN is continuing to pursue the ongoing discussions with the European Commission, and WP29, to gain further clarification of the GDPR as it relates to the integrity of WHOIS services.”

So where to from here? Michele Neylon from the Irish registrar and hosting company Blacknight suggests “there might be more at play here than initially meets the eye. ICANN is probably coming under a lot of pressure from the US government and other interests in relation to public whois. Recent speeches by US Department of Commerce’s head honcho David Redl in multiple venues have underlined the US government’s fixation with full public whois.”

It's not over yet. As Jeffrey noted, the ruling didn’t give the clarity ICANN sought. Watch this space.

Michele Neylon Appointed Chair Elect Of i2Coalition

Blacknight CEO and domain name industry stalwart Michele Neylon has been appointed Chair Elect of the i2Coalition Board of Directors. Neylon’s position as Chair Elect became effective on 1 January and he will assume his role as Chair in January 2018. Until that time, Neylon will work with the current Board Chair David Snead.The i2Coalition, or Internet Infrastructure Coalition, was founded in 2012 by a diverse group of internet infrastructure companies. The organisation supports and represents those who build the nuts and bolts of the internet from around the world.Michele Neylon imageThe organisation’s membership comprises diverse and innovative key players and includes hosting providers, domain registries, domain registrars, cloud services providers, data centres, payment processors, software developers and more. The i2Coalition is funded by member dues and our agenda and projects are set by members.Neylon is an accomplished and outspoken advocate of the internet infrastructure industry and with a list of roles it is likely he never sleeps! He participates in the ICANN GNSO Council, Content Advisory Board of WorldHostingDays, the usTLD Stakeholder Council of Neustar, Inc., the Policy Advisory Committee of .ie Domain Registry, and the Advisory Board Member of HostingCon. He is an award winning social media evangelist and blogger, speaker of four languages, and a passionate philanthropist. Founded in 2002 by Michele Neylon, Blacknight quickly became Ireland’s largest hosting and domain provider, as well as an ICANN accredited registrar. Blacknight joined the i2Coalition in 2013.”I’m pleased for the opportunity to work with Michele in 2017 to ensure that i2Coalition’s important voice continues to flourish.” said Snead. “Michele has been a strong leader, speaking up for this industry to protect it and help it grow. Through i2Coalition, I’m confident that he can help inspire others and grow the impressive voice that we have all built.””Now more than ever it’s vital that the internet industry has a strong voice in protecting both our interests and those of our clients.” said Neylon. “I am honoured to have been selected to lead the industry association that speaks for companies of all sizes on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Experts Discuss What’s in the DNA of a Successful gTLD?

With over 420 new gTLDs being launched in 2014, and about double that to come in the current round, it was timely for the European Domain Centre blog to ask ten leading experts “what’s in the DNA of a successful gTLD?”To help them on their way Christopher Hofman asked the following additional questions:

  • Do successful new gTLDs share common traits ?
  • Is there a way to spot the success of future launches in the registration stats?
  • Why does .link get 50.000 registrations, when .direct only has 4.000 ?
  • What is it about the success of .club or .guru that other registries might have missed?

The experts asked were

  • Michele Neylon (Blacknight Solutions) who said the “key will be the content not the actual domains
  • Andy Churley (Famous Four Media) who questioned the success of .club whose domains have wholesaled for below $10
  • Jeff Sass (.CLUB Domains) who said “the greatest challenges every Registry faces are the ones of awareness and clutter” and “that in 2015 we’ll see stronger registry marketing efforts”
  • Joseph Peterson (Branding Consultant and Domain Investor) who echoed several others saying “success depends on perspective” and that “what truly counts is someone’s goal”. Peterson also thinks that “if .MOBILE were to proceed without restrictions, it might overtake .MOBI a decade from now. Words are simply more natural. So I’d anticipate poor results for truncated nTLDs such as .REST, .PHYSIO, .ONL, and .ARCHI. Indeed, .RESTAURANT has already eclipsed .REST.”
  • Pinky Brand who thinks relationships, trust and planning ahead are all key
  • Adrian Kinderis (ARI Registry Services) says one has to question the importance of numbers and that “while registrars and domainers care little about .brands, they will transform the way we use the Internet. And clearly, a mere count of the names registered under these TLDs will reveal little about the success of these namespaces”
  • Joe Alagna (101domain.com) gave six keys to a successful new gTLD:

1. let markets operate without too much interference.
2. foster trust amongst all stakeholders.
3. keep prices and rules simple and easy to understand.
4. follow established protocols.
5. are predictable and transparent.
6. promote aggressively while respecting their sales channels.

  • Ken Hansen (co.com) said keyword gTLDs, location gTLDs, passion and marketing are all key
  • Morgan Linton (Linton Investments) said “the team behind the registry and the string itself” are key
  • Rubens Kohl (nic.br) believes the key there must be relevance building for a new gTLD to be successful.

To read the full article and complete responses, go to:

Neylon “Angry, Frustrated And Unhappy” With ICANN

Michele Neylon is not happy with ICANN. Actually, he’s “angry, frustrated and unhappy”.

The reason is, “ICANN has put us and other European Union based registrars in an utterly ridiculous situation,” Neylon wrote on his Blacknight Solutions blog.

“We are expected to ask ICANN for permission to comply with Irish and EU data privacy law.

“Or put another way, an Irish company is obliged to jump through hoops with a California based corporation in order to be able to operate within Irish law.”

It’s a situation that has been brewing for some time Neylon wrote, with discussions with ICANN happening for the last two years.

His company went from being a domain name reseller to an ICANN-accredited registrar to cut out the middleman. And now a new contract has been published, but as he notes “the new contract has issues if you’re based in the EU.”

“The central tenet of data privacy law is summed up in Article 6(e) of the European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC which deals with retention of data (emphasis added):
    kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected

“Which under Irish law is Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003:
    “Article 4 (e). preserved in a form which permits identification of the data subjects for no longer than is required for the purpose for which those data are stored”

“However ICANN explicitly demands that registrars retain the data for way longer.”

Neylon’s problem is that the period of time ICANN want the data to be held is “simply too long”.

To seek some clarification, Neylon reached out to Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, and they advised, in short, ‘without any rationale for the data being held for so long they had issues with it’.

The EU also has problems with the requirement. Neylon writes the “European Union, has written to ICANN on several occasions telling them clearly that the 2013 RAA is not compatible with EU law.

“They also made it very clear that they didn’t think it was reasonable to ask every EU based ICANN accredited registrar to jump through hoops to get an exemption to the clauses.”

And then he asks “What did ICANN do about it? Short answer – nothing.”

In his posting, Neylon finds it problematical that ICANN doesn’t understand law.

To read the post in full, see blog.blacknight.com/blow-fuse.html.

First European Elected To Chair ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group

Blacknight’s CEO Michele Neylon has been elected as Chair of the Registrar Stakeholder Group within ICANN. The Irishman is the first European to hold the position.

Registrar Stakeholder Group is one of several Stakeholder Groups within the ICANN community and is the representative body of registrars worldwide.

More details are in the news release below:

Blacknight CEO Elected Chair of Registrar Stakeholder Group of ICANN
Michele Neylon, CEO of, Blacknight, announces his election as Chair of the Registrar Stakeholder Group of ICANN (International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the first European to ever hold the position.

The Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) is one of several Stakeholder Groups within the ICANN community and is the representative body of domain name Registrars worldwide. It is a diverse and active group that works to ensure the interests of Registrars and their customers are effectively advanced.

The chair, in consultation with the executive committee and members, organises the work of the Stakeholder Group and conducts RrSG meetings. The chair often confers with others in the ICANN community on Registrar-related policy and business issues, and is the primary point of contact between the RrSG and ICANN staff. Neylon has previously served as the Secretary to the RrSG and is the only European member of the executive committee.

Michele Neylon states: “It is an honour to have been elected Chair of the Registrar Stakeholder Group. Acting as an executive member of this group has been a valuable experience and I look forward to continuing to do excellent work with a great team.”

Neylon was first elected to the RSG on October 16th 2012. He has long been a trusted member and advisor to the Internet governance community and is in excellent standing within the ICANN community. Neylon’s election as Chair of the RSG came as no surprise and was agreed upon unanimously by its members.

Neylon continues: “As the group’s only European executive member and the CEO of Ireland’s leading domain registrar and hosting company, I bring a unique but vital perspective to the team. Around 21.6% of the world’s Internet users are located in Europe and it is vital that their needs are represented in this forum.”

“Congratulations to Michele Neylon on his election as Chair of the RrSG…with all of his years of participation in Internet governance and ICANN, I can think of no one more qualified for this post and look forward to his successful leadership of the group during this critical time, ” said Matt Serlin, outgoing Chair of the RrS.

Since the formation of ICANN, the Registrar Stakeholder Group has been the voice and advocacy organisation for Registrars and their customers and has played a very active role in policy development and other ICANN processes.

Concerns Grow As To Whether Closed Generic TLDs Should Be Monopolised By Global Giants

With the launch of the first of the new TLDs coming later in 2013, there are growing concerns about the ability of large global businesses to monopolise the use of “closed generic” TLDs.An industry group led by Ireland’s only registrar, Blacknight, is urging the online community to take part in ICANN’s public comment period concerning these “closed generic” TLD Applications.For example, Blacknight asks is it reasonable to allow Google to monopolise “search” through their application for the .search TLD? Or should all bloggers be forced to use Blogger if they want to use theirname.blog?In recent months Blacknight has been leading the community in actively seeking clarification on pending TLD applications for broad term extensions like .blog, .music and .cloud, TLDs that would be severely restricted if monopolised by single entities that intend to use the terms solely to market their own products.Currently ICANN has a public comment period underway requesting comments regarding whether single entities may seek to operate non-trademarked generic word TLDs in a “closed” (not open to the public for registration) manner. The comment period, which opened on 5 February, will remain open until 7 March, 2013.”As longtime members of the ICANN community, we feel strongly on this issue and aim to raise community awareness of the effects of ‘closed generic’ TLDs, said Blacknight’s Michele Neylon. “We believe in an open and ‘free’ Internet and the idea of a small group of companies effectively monopolising terms that belong to all people just seems wrong.”Blacknight has expressed discontent with the possibility of closed non-trademarked key-word extensions through multiple letters to ICANN. The letters encourage ICANN to consider the adoption of a process in which applicants who wish to operate a closed TLD, meet certain, transparent criteria.According to Icann.org: “ICANN is seeking public comment on the subject of ‘closed generic’ gTLD applications and whether specific requirements should be adopted corresponding to this type of application. Stakeholder views are invited to help define and consider the issue. In particular, comments would be helpful in regard to proposed objective criteria for: classifying certain applications as ‘closed generic’ TLDs, i.e., how to determine whether a string is generic, and determining the circumstances under which a particular TLD operator should be permitted to adopt ‘open’ or ‘closed’ registration policies.”Responding to this Neylon says he “strongly urge[s] the online community to take advantage of this public comment period. Allowing companies that have no trademark claims to generic, key-terms such as ‘blog’, ‘beauty’ or ‘music’ is tantamount to granting them ownership of those words. This behaviour negates the purpose of creating a richer, more diverse Internet space. This is a slap in the face to those of us who worked so hard to help bring new TLDs into being.”The public comment period for “Closed Generic” TLD Applications is currently active and will remain open until 7 March 2013.To submit a comment, go to www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/closed-generic-05feb13-en.htmPrevious letters from Blacknight to ICANN concerning “closed generic” TLD Applications are available at:blog.blacknight.com/letter-to-icann-clarifications-on-non-trademarked-generic-keyword-tld-are-needed.html

Domain Industry Expresses Concerns To ICANN On Use Of Generic Keyword TLDs

Concerns about what companies plan to do with some of their generic keyword new Top Level Domains have been expressed by one of Ireland’s leading registrars and hosting companies.Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon has corralled a group of industry people to co-sign the letter that urges ICANN “to formally clarify its position on Generic Key Word TLDs.”The letter also asks “specifically whether ICANN will allow [the new TLDs] to be operated in a ‘closed’ manner. The most recent version of the ‘Registry Operator Code of Conduct’ states that any applicant who wishes to operate a closed TLD would file an exception request to operate the TLD thusly.”The signatories are encouraging ICANN to consider the adoption of a process in which applicants who wish to operate a closed TLD, meet certain, transparent criteria.To gain an exception, the signatories believe a registry must only use the TLD for its exclusive use, not make domain names available for public registration and provide proof that “application of this Code of Conduct to the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest.”The letter also expresses the view that while there are several issues regarding new gTLDs that remain unclear, this issue most directly affects the public.”As a community, we supported a program that would expand the name space for competition, to further the internet and to provide a broader choice for our customers,” said Neylon. “Our collective aim is to help the Internet into this next stage, not to take generic key words that essentially belong to ‘everyone’ and tie him or her up.”The letter follows on from another that was sent by Blacknight to ICANN in September 2012 expressing concern that it is generally understood that new gTLDs would be operated in a closed manner only under very defined circumstances.The letter is available online at blog.blacknight.com/letter-to-icann-clarifications-on-non-trademarked-generic-keyword-tld-are-needed.html.

Two Irish Tech Supremos Launch Weekly Podcast

Two of Ireland”s best known technology minds have launched a weekly podcast focussing on technology issues, including domain names. With an Irish flavour, Michele Neylon and Conn Ó Muíneacháin have launched Technology.ie focusing on what they know best – the tech industry.

The podcast, which has been in the works for some time is collaboration between Neylon who is the founding director of Irish registrar and hosting company, Blacknight and Ó Muíneacháin of EdgeCast Media, a radio and digital media production company. Both men are well known in the Irish Internet and technology communities.

While both Blacknight and EdgeCast are technology companies, Neylon and Ó Muíneacháin seek to deliver content that reaches farther than their respective industry niches.

The first episode touches on New gTLDs, portable podcasting, profiting from online social media, Teamer.net, Zemanta, the dangers of over-investing resources and attention in a single form of social media and Klout.

“I”ve wanted to do a podcast for quite some time but I didn”t want to focus only on what Blacknight is doing. There are a lot of companies and individuals doing really cool stuff in the broader world of technology and we want to shine a spotlight on them,” said Michele Neylon

A combination of Neylon”s outspoken comic delivery and Ó Muíneacháin”s no-nonsense approach makes the podcast entertaining as well as educational.

“For me,” said Neylon, “Conn is the perfect co-host. We are obsessive about gadgets, websites and online services to the point that we are aware of a lot of new stuff in its early stages. There aren”t a lot of people who can be obsessive on that level and still be great fun to have a conversation with.”

Neylon and Ó Muíneacháin will be sitting down together and with guests every week to discuss the latest gadgets, gossip and the new frontiers of technology.

Visit technology.ie/technology-ie-podcast-1/ to tune in to Technology.ie and listen to the first podcast. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes: itunes.apple.com/ie/podcast/the-technology.ie-pod