[AFRI-Discuss] ICANN Announcement: Registrar Accreditation Policy and Process Must Be Reviewed

Nick Ashton-Hart nick.ashton-hart at icann.org
Wed Mar 21 15:16:50 EDT 2007

The announcement below should be of interest in the context of the  
resolution being discussed by the community. The link to this item is  
at http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-21mar07.htm.

The list of questions may incorporate some questions which would be  
worthy of cross-incorporation into the resolution of the community -  
just a thought.


Registrar Accreditation Policy and Process Must be Reviewed

21 March 2007

President and CEO of ICANN, Dr Paul Twomey today called for major  
review of ICANN’s Registrar Accreditation Agreements (RAA) and the  
Accreditation process.

“What has happened to registrants with RegisterFly.com has made it  
clear there must be comprehensive review of the registrar  
accreditation process and the content of the RAA” he said. “This is  
going to be a key debate at our Lisbon meeting scheduled for 26 - 30  
March 2007. There must be clear decisions made on changes. As a  
community we cannot put this off.”

“ICANN introduced competition to the domain name market in 1998. Back  
then there was one registrar. There are now over 865. That’s a good  
thing because it has made domain names cheaper and offered more  
choice. But the RAA was designed and signed when the domain name  
market was much smaller. The market now supports about 70 million  
generic TLD names and is growing.” Dr Twomey said.

“Registrants suffer most from weaknesses in the RAA and I want to  
make sure that ICANN’s accreditation process and our agreement gives  
us the ability to respond more strongly and flexibly in the future”  
he said.

“What is presently happening with RegisterFly makes it clear that  
there are also some problems with proxy registrations. Specifically,  
proxy registrations are available as a choice, but people who have  
them have great difficulties getting access to their data and having  
their domain name transferred where a registrar is uncooperative or  
has other problems with transfer. ICANN has had difficulty accessing  
this data too,” Dr Twomey said.

“We need to expedite data escrow. There has been a long and detailed  
discussion and much interaction between ICANN staff and registrars on  
this issue. But we need to reach a conclusion. Recent events and the  
Lisbon meeting present that opportunity. There are resource  
implications and useage rules that need to be discussed among the  
ICANN community. I look forward to the continuing efforts and  
collaboration of registrars with ICANN in that regard ” he said.

“Registrants clearly want ICANN to have more capacity to access data  
on their behalf if there are significant problems with their  
registrar. There is a need for better enforcement mechanisms and an  
ability for ICANN to intervene more quickly if a registrar fails or  
is engaged in damaging business practice” he added.

“There’s also no way that registrants can measure the performance of  
registrars in any independent comparative way. That should be  
encouraged” Dr Twomey said.

“The vast majority of ICANN’s accredited registrars offer high levels  
of service and integrity. But as we have seen, there is the risk that  
poorly performing registrars can hurt registrants very significantly.  
If the domain name industry wants to remain community self – 
regulating as it has been until now we need to put in place further  
sensible and practical measures to protect registrants” he noted.

Dr Twomey said he would like to see the following issues included in  
any discussion:

Purpose of Register Accreditation Policy and Agreement

     What is the primary purpose of the Registration Accreditation  
Agreement? Is it a compliance tool? If so how can it be strengthened  
to protect registrants?

Rating of Registrars

     How should ICANN and/or the registrar constituency encourage a  
system that rates registrars according to customer service and  
performance and should this be available to registrants?

Affiliated Registrars / Group ownership

     Affiliated registrars have common ownership or control. What is  
the best mechanism for ICANN to hold affiliated registrars  
accountable for an affiliate’s actions?

Additional compliance enforcement tools

     Stronger compliance tools need to be included in any reform to  
the RAA. What are those tools? Do they encompass liquidated damages?  
Should registrars be able to be suspended more readily? Are there  
other options? What are the mechanisms that allow such options to be  
enforced quickly?

Transfer policy

     What elements of the transfer policy need to be reformed? Should  
registrants have an alternative to their current registrar for the  
issuing of authcodes and the unlocking of them? Should ICANN or  
another entity be able to do this?

Registrar operator skill testing

     How is it possible to assess registrar skills and to train  
registrars to a common standard of performance upon which registrants  
can rely?

Accreditation by purchase

     It is possible for companies to ‘avoid’ accreditation  
application process by buying a registrar. How can abuse of this  
loophole be stopped?

Proxy registrations

     There needs to be an examination of proxy registrations in light  
of difficulties faced in registrar data recovery. What is the balance  
between privacy and disclosure?

Reseller liability under RAA

     What tools are needed to ensure better accountability by  
resellers to registrants?

Registrar data escrow

     What data needs to be escrowed? If implementation needs to move  
faster, greater resource allocation is required. What level of  
resourcing is necessary?

Clarification of ICANN's responsibilities and the options available  
to registrants

     ICANN recently posted a guide for registrants on its website but  
additional consumer options (outside ICANN) should be identified for  
and provided to registrants. Is there a need for a new entity to  
assist customers and intervene on behalf of their concerns?

“All ICANN stakeholders need to be involved in this debate. But in  
particular I would like to see registrars and registrants actively  
engaged in the discussion,” Dr Twomey said. “It is in their interests  
to make sure that poor practice is driven from the process and that  
the protection of registrants is increased.”

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