Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Preliminary Issue Report on Uniformity of Contracts to Address Registration Abuse

Comment/Reply Periods (*) Important Information Links
Comment Open: 25 July 2012
Comment Close: 15 August 2012
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 UTC Public Comment Announcement
Reply Open: 16 August 2012 To Submit Your Comments (Forum Closed)
Reply Close: 5 September 2012 View Comments Submitted
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 UTC Report of Public Comments
Brief Overview
Originating Organization: GNSO
Categories/Tags:
  • Policy Processes
  • Contracted Party Agreements
Purpose (Brief): At its October meeting last year the GNSO Council requested an Issue Report to evaluate whether a minimum baseline of registration abuse provisions should be created for all in scope ICANN agreements, and if created, how such language would be structured to address the most common forms of registration abuse. The Preliminary Issue Report has now been published for public comment.
Current Status: This Report is designated as "preliminary" to allow for community input and dialogue prior to the publication of the Final Issue Report.
Next Steps: The Preliminary Issue Report will be updated to reflect community feedback submitted through this forum. A Final Issue Report will then be presented to the GNSO Council for its consideration.
Staff Contact: Rob Hoggarth Email: policy-staff@icann.org
Detailed Information
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

This Preliminary Issue Report is published in response to a request by the GNSO Council for an Issue Report on the topic of Uniformity of Contracts, as a required preliminary step before a Policy Development Process (PDP) may be initiated. The objective of a possible PDP would be 'to evaluate whether a minimum baseline of registration abuse provisions should be created for all in-scope ICANN agreements, and if created, how such language would be structured to address the most common forms of registration abuse'.

Earlier reports on this topic (see October 2008 Issues Report [PDF, 297 KB] and the RAPWG Final Report [PDF, 1.73 MB]), describe the lack of uniformity of abuse provisions among the currently delegated gTLD registry agreements, as well as the absence of specific abuse provisions in the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). Across the spectrum of existing registry agreements, there are elements of similarity but each contract (currently) is customized to the uniqueness of the respective registry's business model and operating conditions.

In an attempt to develop a complete picture of the existing abuse provisions for this Issue Report, ICANN Staff reviewed 17 different gTLD registry and registry-registrar agreements, and several other publicly available documents on registry websites that relate to contractual rights and obligations associated with abuse (e.g., Acceptable Use Policies and Terms of Agreement). In general, Staff discovered:

  1. Existing Registry Agreements generally do not include specific provisions to address abuse
  2. To the extent existing agreements address activities that might be defined as abuse, there is little in the way of common language across agreements to identify those activities
  3. Where registries include specific provisions for dealing with various types of abuse, there is evidence that the provisions can be effective
  4. Regardless of whether the agreements contain registration abuse provisions, registration abuse still exists in the domain name industry

Staff has confirmed that a PDP regarding the potential development of uniform baseline Registration Abuse policies for use in ICANN contracts is within the scope of the ICANN Policy Process and the GNSO. Consequently, Staff recommends that the Council initiate a Policy Development Process on this topic. Should the PDP proceed, Staff suggests that the working group conduct further research, as follows:

  • Understand if registration abuses are occurring that could be addressed more effectively if consistent registration abuse policies were established;
  • Determine if and how (registration) abuse is dealt with in those registries (and registrars) that do not have in place any specific provisions or policies to address abuse; and
  • Identify how registration abuse provisions, where they exist, are implemented in practice and whether they are effective in addressing registration abuse.

If the results of this research reveals that there is value in having uniform provisions to address registration abuse, the PDP WG should also consider a set of initial benchmarks for developing an initial baseline or framework of provisions to battle registration abuse, and define potential reporting requirements to track progress toward those goals. ICANN Staff is of the view that there may be benefits to establishing a consistent framework of registration abuse prevention that is applicable across gTLD registries and ICANN-accredited Registrars.

ICANN Staff would welcome community input on the findings as well as conclusions of this Preliminary Issue Report.

Section II: Background
The request for an Issue Report on this topic follows the work of the Registration Abuse Policies Working Group (RAPWG). The RAPWG was tasked by the GNSO Council with defining abuse, making a determination between registration abuse versus use abuse, defining the most common forms of abuse, and understanding the effectiveness of abuse provisions within agreements in order to identify and recommend specific policy issues and processes for further consideration by the GNSO Council. The RAPWG identified a total of 14 recommended actions that could address various forms of registration abuse. Some recommendations addressed WHOIS access issues, fake renewal notices, UDRP Review, malicious use of domain names and several others. The specific recommendation ultimately prompting this Issue Report stated: "Evaluate whether a minimum baseline of registration abuse provisions should be created for all in scope ICANN agreements and if created, how such language would be structured to address the most common forms of registration abuse."
Section III: Document and Resource Links
Preliminary Issue Report on Uniformity of Contacts to Address Registration Abuse [PDF, 683 KB]
Section IV: Additional Information
None

(*) Comments submitted after the posted Close Date/Time are not guaranteed to be considered in any final summary, analysis, reporting, or decision-making that takes place once this period lapses.

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