[At-Large] A million domains taken down by email checks
joly at punkcast.com
Wed Jun 25 16:59:17 UTC 2014
Fwd over from the NCSG list. I underdtand that this would have been
discussed in today's EWG and privacy sessions. Any comments?
A million domains taken down by email checks
Kevin Murphy <http://domainincite.com/about>, June 24, 2014, 14:34:25
(UTC), Domain Registrars
*Over 800,000 domain names have been suspended since the beginning of the
year as a result of Whois email verification rules in the new ICANN
Registrar Accreditation Agreement.*
That’s according to the Registrars Stakeholder Group, which collected
suspension data from registrars representing about 75% of all registered
gTLD domain names.
The actual number of suspended domains could be closer to a million.
The 2013 RAA requires registrars to verify the email addresses listed in
their customers’ Whois records. If they don’t receive the verification,
they have to suspend the domain.
The RrSG told the ICANN board in March that these checks were doing more
harm than good
and today Tucows CEO Elliot Noss presented, as promised, data to back up
“There have been over 800,000 domains suspended,” Noss said. “We have
stories of healthcare sites that have gone down, community groups whose
sites have gone down.”
“I think we can safely say millions of internet users,” he said. “Those are
real people just trying to use the internet. They are our great
unrepresented core constituency.”
The RrSG wants to see contrasting data from law enforcement agencies and
governments — which pushed hard for Whois verification — showing that the
RAA requirement has had a demonstrable benefit.
Registrars asked at the Singapore meeting in March that law enforcement
agencies (LEA) be put on notice that they can’t ask for more Whois controls
until they’ve provided such data and ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade said
“It shall be done by London.”
Noss implied that the majority of the 800,000 suspended names belong to
innocent registrants, such as those who had simply changed email addresses
since registering their names.
“What was a lovely political win that we said time and time again in
discussion after discussion was impractical and would provide no benefit,
has demonstrably has created harm,” Noss said.
He was received with cautious support by ICANN board members.
Chair Steve Crocker wonder aloud how many of the 800,000 suspended domains
are owned by bad guys, and he noted that LEA don’t appear to gather data in
the way that the registrars are demanding.
“We were subjected, all of us, to heavy-duty pressure from the law
enforcement community over a long period of time. We finally said, ‘Okay,
we hear you and we’ll help you get this stuff implemented,’”, he added.
“That creates an obligation as far as I’m concerned on their part.”
“We’re in a — at least from a moral position — in a strong position to say,
‘You must help us understand this. Otherwise, you’re not doing your part of
the job’”, he said.
Chehade also seemed to support the registrars’ position that LEA needs to
justify its demands and offered to take their data and concerns to the LEA
and the Governmental Advisory Committee.
“They put restrictions on us that are causing harm, according to these
numbers,” he said. “Let’s take this back at them and say, hey, you ask for
all these things, this is what happened.”
“If you can’t tell me what good this has done, be aware not to come back
and ask for more,” he said. “I’m with you on this 100%. I’m saying let’s
use the great findings you seem to have a found and well-package them in a
case and I will be your advocate.”
Director Mike Silber also spoke in support of the RrSG’s position.
“My view is if what you are saying is correct, the LEA’s have blown their
credibility,” he said. “They’re going to have to do a lot of work before we
impose similar disproportional requirements on actors that are not proven
to be bad actors.”
So what does this all mean for registrants?
I don’t think there’s any ongoing process right now to get the Whois
verification requirements overturned — that would require a renegotiation
of the RAA — but it does seem to mean demands from governments and police
are going to have to be much more substantiated in future.
Noss attempted to link the problem to the recommendations of the Whois
Expert Working Group (EWG), which propose a completely revamped,
centralized Whois system with much more verification
and not much to benefit registrants.
To paraphrase: if email verification causes so much harm, what harms could
be caused by the EWG proposal?
The EWG was not stuffed with LEA or governments, however, so it couldn’t
really be characterized as another set of unreasonable demands from the
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