ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group Requests RAA Amendment to Mitigate DNS Abuse

Started by Domaining News, Jan 06, 2023, 05:03 AM

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It's that time of year again: the annual top 10 year in review. With over 20 years of experience, you might think I've seen everything, but things are always changing in the domain name industry, and some of the items on this list were completely unpredictable. Without further ado, here are the 10 biggest stories of 2022.

10. Domain Name Market Reaches 349.9 Million Registrations
Verisign's Domain Name Industry Brief reported that there were 349.9 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains by the end of Q3, a decline of 1.6 million compared to Q2 2022. However, compared to last year, there was an increase of 11.5 million registrations. Note that the numbers do not include domain names in the .TK, .CF, .GA, .GQ, and .ML ccTLDs operated by Freenom.

9. MarkMonitor Acquired by Newfold Digital
Newfold Digital, a web and commerce technology provider, announced its intention to acquire MarkMonitor from Clarivate Analytics. The announcement stated that MarkMonitor is expected to generate approximately $80 million in revenue and $35 million in EBITDA for 2022. Newfold Digital operates retail registrars such as Bluehost, CrazyDomains, and HostGator.

8. New gTLDs from 2012 Round Continue to Launch
Even more than 10 years after the first round of new gTLDs launched, we're still seeing the launch of TLDs. In the past year, .BOO, .RSVP, .KIDS, and .GIVING have been introduced, with several others expected to follow in 2023, including .MUSIC and .WEB.

7. Changes to the Inter-Registrar Component of Transfer Policy Anticipated
The Transfer Policy working group proposed significant changes to the AuthInfo code, which will become the TAC (Transfer Authorization Code). The TAC will be for one-time use, valid for 14 days, and securely stored by the registry. Other planned changes include expanding the reasons for denying a transfer and updating language around notifications to registrants.

6. Web3 Identities Raise Questions for Brand Owners
Web3 identities, also known as blockchain domains, are being used as a way to simplify the naming of blockchain wallets, but there are risks. With any new space, there is potential for brand abuse. Brand owners have recognized that these new technologies do not currently offer reliable or robust dispute mechanisms, and many have taken a defensive registration approach.

ICANN Org proposed a system called the Whois Disclosure System (WDS) in September of 2022 to provide access to nonpublic registration data related to generic top-level domains. The WDS is a logging system that aims to make the process of submitting and receiving requests for nonpublic gTLD registration data easier for requestors and ICANN-accredited registrars. While not binding, the WDS could inform the ICANN Board's consideration of the much more expensive and robust SSAD.

DNS abuse has emerged as a hot topic at ICANN, with growing concerns over malicious registrations and the role of bulk registrations in DNS abuse. In response, the GNSO appointed a small team to make recommendations, including a Preliminary Issue Report on malicious registrations, exploring the role of bulk registrations, and encouraging contracted parties to work with DNS abuse reporters.

The ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group initiated discussions in December 2022 to amend the Registrar Accreditation Agreement to incorporate requirements for registrars to disrupt and/or mitigate DNS abuse. More than a third of corporate domain professionals surveyed by GoDaddy Corporate Domains expressed dissatisfaction with their current registrar and would consider switching.

Finally, ICANN is closing in on a timeline for the second round of new gTLDs, having completed a 10-month Operational Design Phase that analyzed costs, timelines, staffing, and resources.


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DNS abuse refers to any malicious or harmful activity that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in the Domain Name System (DNS). This includes activities such as phishing, malware distribution, botnet operations, and other forms of cybercrime. DNS abuse can lead to significant disruptions in internet services, compromise user privacy and security, and undermine trust in the online ecosystem.

The RrSG recognizes the need for stronger measures to combat DNS abuse and has proposed specific amendments to the RAA to achieve this goal. These amendments focus on enhancing registrar obligations and enforcement mechanisms, improving communication and coordination between ICANN and registrars, and implementing effective measures for detecting and mitigating DNS abuse.

By amending the RAA, the RrSG aims to create a more robust framework for combating DNS abuse and ensuring a safe and secure internet environment for users. These proposed changes reflect the collective efforts of domain name registrars to play an active role in addressing the evolving threats of DNS abuse.

The specific details of the requested amendments to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) by the ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group (RrSG) have not been provided. However, it can be inferred that these proposed changes aim to strengthen registrar obligations and enforcement mechanisms, enhance communication and coordination with ICANN, and implement effective measures for detecting and mitigating DNS abuse.

Here are some potential areas that the RrSG might focus on in their request:

1. Registrar Responsibilities: The RrSG may propose additional obligations for registrars to actively monitor and prevent DNS abuse. This could include regular scanning for malicious activity, implementing security measures, and promptly responding to abuse reports.

2. Enforcement Mechanisms: The RrSG might suggest stronger enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with the proposed obligations. This could involve penalties, sanctions, or even suspension or termination of a registrar's accreditation in cases of repeated non-compliance.

3. Communication and Coordination: The RrSG may call for improved communication channels and processes between ICANN and registrars to facilitate the sharing of abuse-related information, best practices, and collaborative efforts to mitigate DNS abuse.

4. Abuse Detection and Mitigation: The RrSG might propose measures to strengthen the capabilities of registrars in detecting and mitigating DNS abuse. This could involve the deployment of advanced technologies, increased collaboration with cybersecurity organizations, and sharing of threat intelligence.