06|22|2008 06:14 pm EDT
In a recent memorandum to ICANN, .info domain name registry provider Afilias has proposed that the company be responsible for all decisions regarding .info domain name abuses. The proposed Abusive Use Policy has its root in the good intention of comabting the use of domain names for phishing, spamming or other malcious use, however the proposal provides a greater amount of control to the registry and leaves the door open for the registry to make important decisions on what is and is not to be considered abusive use of a domain name.
The proposal defines the abusive practices which it would seek to prevent, but many of these abusive practices are left open for interpretation. The “Other abusive behaviors” also leaves in an open-ended category which would allow the registry to include any other form of abusive practices that they see fit:
Other abusive behaviors, normally identified by a pattern of material deceit, defined motive, leveraged opportunity and often conducted in a repetitive manner with or without concealment
The proposal finally seeks to put far greater control in the hands of the registry operator, in essence enabling the registry to become the ultimate decision maker in what is and is not considered abusive use of a domain name.
The proposal specifically states :
Pursuant to Section 3.6.5 of the RRA, Afilias reserves the right to deny, cancel or transfer any registration or transaction, or place any domain name(s) on registry lock, hold or similar status,
that it deems necessary, in its discretion;
In a research study by software company McAfee, the .info registry was cited as having one of the greatest number of malicious sites in a gTLD. Additionally, last month Google removed sites using the .info domain name from their search listings. Many industry insiders would cite the reason for the higher level of abuses to be rooted in the cheaper domain prices and promotions frequently conducted by the registry. These efforts appear to boost registrations overall, but obviously are boosting the registrations by the wrong type of clientele.
Afilias is making an important step in cleaning up the problems at the registry, however their request to be the ultimate decision maker in cases of abuse needs to be re-thought. One would think that the process should have a greater level of checks and balances and some sense of due process set-up in making this level of decision. It is likely far easier though for the registry to propose a solution that gives them ultimate power than it is to come up with a solution that protects registrants rights and interests.
If ICANN were to grant this level of power to the .info registry, it is safe to assume that other registry providers, specifically Verisign with .com and .net, would also seek to have this authority.
ICANN invites public comment on all registry proposals. The public can comment by sending an email to email@example.com. Comments can be seen on the public site at http://forum.icann.org/lists/registryservice/
Thanks to George Kirikos for bringing this to our attention.