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[council] FYI - ALAC letter sent to Board on Domain "Reservation"

  • To: "Council GNSO" <council@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, liaison6c <liaison6c@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: [council] FYI - ALAC letter sent to Board on Domain "Reservation"
  • From: "Denise Michel" <denise.michel@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 09:44:13 -0700
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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 (footnote 1)

-- see

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

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.

(footnote -- see

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 norms.

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 -- see

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.

[Submitted to Board via At-Large Advisory Committee Board Liaison, Wendy

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