Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Draft Proposed Changes to Registrar Accreditation Agreement

18 June 2008

Click here to go through to the public comment period (open until 4 August 2008).

This announcement describes fifteen draft amendments to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) for consideration and discussion by the ICANN community. The amendments were developed through a community consultation process and then a discussion between registrars and ICANN taking that comment into account. The draft amendments are presented here to facilitate further community discussion with the objective of implementing a set of contract changes to enhance registrant protections. ICANN staff will be available to facilitate discussions with constituency groups at ICANN's meetings in Paris and afterwards.

These amendments fall into four general categories:

  • Enforcement Tools – these amendments are designed to enhance registrar compliance and to give ICANN better tools for enforcement.
  • Registrant Protections – these amendments focus on areas to improve the protection of registrants by enhancing consumer information that supports better informed decisions and choices concerning the protection of data.
  • Promoting stable and competitive registrar marketplace – these amendments focus on making sure that all participants in the registration marketplace meet minimum standards.
  • Agreement modernization – these amendments are intended to make certain that provisions in the contract meet current needs.

History of Consultation

  • In an effort to address concerns raised about the protection of registrants, ICANN has undertaken considerable discussions with community members concerning potential amendment to the RAA. Input has been received through public comment fora, particularly from ALAC and the Intellectual Property Constituency. In accordance with the direction set in those discussions, ICANN has conducted both telephonic and face-to-face discussions with registrars on how to provide these protections by amending the RAA. From the eight substantive areas of reform called for by Paul Twomey in March 2007 (see <http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-21mar07.htm>), and these community consultations, fifteen RAA amendments have been proposed.
  • Workshops have been held at ICANN meetings where issues of data escrow, registry failover, compliance, and RAA amendments were discussed. In parallel, the Board resolved to direct staff to solicit community input related to RAA amendments, engage in a dialogue with registrars to arrive at a set of proposed RAA amendments to be posted for public comment, and solicit advice from ALAC, the GNSO, and other interested parties to inform the Board's review of the amendments (see < http://www.icann.org/minutes/resolutions-29jun07.htm#k>).
  • An initial set of amendments were drafted and posted for public comment between July and September 2007, with a summary published in October 2007. A page was established on the ICANN website for "Consultation on Registrar Accreditation Agreement Amendments" at <http://www.icann.org/topics/raa/>. During this period initial discussions were also held with registrars.
  • Based on discussions with registrars and solicited community advice an updated set of amendments emerged. The Registrar Constituency created a working group, led by Constituency Chair Jon Nevett, to enter into an ongoing dialogue with ICANN on the RAA issues under consideration. Several iterations have been drafted as the dialogue between the working group and ICANN has progressed. Both face-to-face and telephone conferences have taken place.
  • The ALAC also created a working group to review the RAA and has contributed to the dialogue. In part, as a result of the ongoing dialogue, communications between the registrars and ALAC have improved.
  • At the end of this comment period a report summarizing the feedback will be prepared for the Board to consider in its review.

Proposed Amendments

Below is a summary of the amendments being posted for comment (for the contract language being proposed to implement each of these, see <RAA Provisions Comparison> [PDF, 40K] and <Redline 2001 RAA> [PDF, 79K]):

  1. Enforcement tools
    1. Registrar Audits – Allowing ICANN to conduct site visits and audits of registrars upon at least 15 days notice.
    2. Sanctions & Suspension – Providing for escalated compliance enforcement tools such as monetary sanctions and suspension of registry access.
    3. Group Liability – Preventing "serial misconduct" by registrars when another affiliated (by common control) registrar's RAA is terminated.
    4. Registrar Fees – Revising registrar fee provision to be aligned with recent and current ICANN budgets; assessing interest on late fee payments.
    5. Registrations by Registrars – Creating liability by registrars to ICANN for any registrations created by a registrar for its use in providing Registrar Services.
    6. Arbitration Stay – Eliminating the existing automatic 30-day stay of termination registrars receive by initiating arbitration or litigation to challenge an RAA termination.
  2. Registrant protections
    1. Private Registration & Registrar Data Escrow Requirements – Registrars are required to either escrow underlying customer data in the case of private or proxy registrations, or alternatively, give prominent notification that such data will not be escrowed.
    2. Registrant Rights and Responsibilities – Requiring registrars to include on their websites a link to a "Registrant Rights and Responsibilities" document to be created in consultation with the ICANN community.
    3. Contractual Relationships with Resellers – Protecting registrants who are customers of resellers by obligating resellers to follow ICANN policies and requiring that they either escrow privacy/proxy customer data, or alternatively, give prominent notification that such data will not be escrowed.
  3. Promoting stable and competitive registrar marketplace
    1. Accreditation by Purchase – Requiring registrars to notify ICANN upon a change of ownership and to re-certify the registrar's compliance with the RAA.
    2. Operator Skills Training and Testing – Providing for mandatory training of registrar representatives to ensure better registrar understanding of ICANN policies and RAA requirements.
    3. Use of ICANN-Accredited Registrars – Maintaining ICANN's general policy of requiring registries to use ICANN-accredited registrars (in the absence of a reasonable and noted exception).
  4. Agreement modernization
    1. Notice Provision – Streamlining ICANN's obligation to provide notice to registrars of new consensus policies applicable to registrars.
    2. References to the Department of Commerce – Acknowledging ICANN's movement toward independence from the DOC by removing certain references within the RAA to a requirement of DOC approval.
    3. Registrar Data Retention Requirements – Clarifying data retention requirement for registrars to allow for more uniform practices.

Send comments on these proposed changes to raa-consultation@icann.org.

View comments at http://forum.icann.org/lists/raa-consultation.

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