[EURO-Discuss] URGENT: Statement on Domain Name Front Running

At-Large Staff staff at atlarge.icann.org
Thu Mar 13 11:46:53 EDT 2008

Dear Members:

The statement reproduced below on the practice known as ³Domain Name Front
Running² was approved by the NARALO on 10 March 2008. The ALAC reviewed this
statement on 11th March 2008, and by decision of the ALAC you are kindly
asked to register any objections to this statement not later than Monday 17
March at 1200 UTC ­ after  it will be considered approved by the ALAC and
transmitted to the Board by the Chair at her convenience.

The statement may be found at the following URL in addition to being
reproduced below: 

Statement on Domain Name Front Running
Presented to NARALO by electronic Mail, 1 March 2008

Dear ICANN board directors:

While we are aware that you have been monitoring the public outrage in
response to registrar activities that have been variously described as
"front-running" and/or "domain reservation" or "cart-hold" or "cart-reserve"
activities, we are of the view that the obligation to safeguard the
operational stability of Registrar Services now requires the immediate
temporary establishment of a consensus policy curtailing such practices to
be taken in accordance with the board's authority under the provisions set
out in section 4.3.4 of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, that states:

"A specification or policy established by the ICANN Board of Directors on a
temporary basis, without a prior recommendation by the council of an ICANN
Supporting Organization, shall also be considered to be a Consensus Policy
if adopted by the ICANN Board of Directors by a vote of at least two-thirds
of its members, so long as the Board reasonably determines that immediate
temporary establishment of a specification or policy on the subject is
necessary to maintain the operational stability of Registrar Services,
Registry Services, the DNS, or the Internet, and that the proposed
specification or policy is as narrowly tailored as feasible to achieve those
Please be advised that we have reached this conclusion based in part upon
the following considerations:

1. The use of "cart-hold" or "cart-reserve" systems has been actively under
discussion within the registrars constituency since early October 2007 when
three different registrars first advanced the concept within the context of
a straw poll on the impact to registrants were the AGP to be eliminated in
its entirety (see footnote 1 at the bottom of the page)

2. The use of this domain name reservation practice next came to be adopted
by a large-volume registrar (Network Solutions) on or about 8 January 2008,
and the practice was immediately condemned by the community at large (with
extensive coverage in the Tech media, the general press, in blogs world
wide, on domain name forums, and on community discussion lists).

3. The actions of Network Solutions has now spawned a similar project on the
part of another large-volume registrar (register.com), and we have no reason
to believe that other large-volume registrars will refrain from rapidly
setting up comparable efforts. (see Footnote 2).

While we recognize that we are unable to point to an ICANN-approved
definition of "operational stability of Registrar Services" (as no such
definition exists within either current ICANN contracts or supporting
materials), we take guidance from the ICANN Policy Document ICP-3 which
posits that activities that do not interfere with the operation of the DNS
are, generally speaking, those that operate within community-established

Such norms tend to respect a set of long-established principles such as the
principle of least astonishment. When registrants currently search for a
domain name at these registrars using normative search practices, they are
clearly astonished by that which results from their efforts: the inability
to readily register the domain name of their choice with a more competitive
registrar and/or the domain name that they have selected appearing in the
WHOIS with the name of the registrar as the registrant of record. (Footnote

The community's trust in ICANN's ability to manage the Domain Name System is
at stake. It is inappropriate for such registrar activities to proceed
unabated in a policy vaccuum. Accordingly we call upon the ICANN board to
establish a temporary narrowly-tailored policy as a stopgap until such time
as the relevant policy-recommending ICANN Supporting Organizations can
provide a comprehensive consensus policy solution.
ICANN At-Large Staff
email: staff at atlarge.icann.org

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