The Add Grace Period ("AGP") shall be restricted for any gTLD Operator (hereinafter referred to as "Operator") that has implemented an AGP. Specifically, for each Operator:
a. During any given month, an Operator may not offer any refund to an ICANN-accredited registrar (hereinafter referred to as "Registrar") for any domain names deleted during the AGP that exceed (i) 10% of that Registrar's net new registrations (calculated as the total number of net adds of one-year through ten-year registrations as defined in the monthly reporting requirement of Operator Agreements) in that month, or (ii) fifty (50) domain names, whichever is greater, unless an exemption has been granted by an Operator.
b. A Registrar may seek an exemption from an Operator from the application of such restriction in a specific month, upon the documented showing of extraordinary circumstances. For any Registrar requesting such an exemption, the Registrar must confirm in writing to the Operator how, at the time the names were deleted, these extraordinary circumstances were not known, reasonably could not have been known, and were outside the Registrar’s control. Acceptance of any exemption will be at the sole and reasonable discretion of the Operator, however "extraordinary circumstances" which reoccur regularly for the same Registrar will not be deemed extraordinary.
c. In addition to all other reporting requirements to ICANN, each Operator shall identify each Registrar that has sought an exemption, along with a brief descriptive identification of the type of extraordinary circumstance and the action, approval or denial that was taken by the Operator.
Draft Add Grace Period (AGP) Limits Policy Implementation Notes
This synopsis is intended to provide information regarding the implementation of the AGP Limits Policy ("the Policy") and the effects on gTLD operators (hereinafter referred to as "Operators") and ICANN-accredited registrars (hereinafter referred to as "Registrars").
Add Grace Period (AGP)
AGP refers to a specified number of calendar days following a gTLD registry operation in which a domain action may be reversed and a credit may be issued to a Registrar. AGP is typically the five-day period following the initial registration of a domain name. AGP appears as a contractual term in some, but not all gTLD registry agreements.
When a domain name is registered through a Registrar, that Registrar may cancel the domain name at any time during the first five calendar days of the registration (the Add Grace Period or AGP), and receive a full credit for the registration fee from the Operator.
AGP was intended to allow for the correction of typos and other errors by registrants. Once a domain name is deleted by the registry at this stage, it is immediately available for registration by any registrant through any Registrar.
Effect on Operators
For an Operator providing an AGP in its Registry Agreement (some Operators have AGP defined in the functional and performance specifications appendix of their agreement) this Policy affects and limits this functionality. Prior to implementation, all Operators must give all active Registrars 30-days notice of the change in AGP refund limits. Beginning on [1 March 2009], Operators may no longer provide refunds to Registrars for AGP deletes that exceed the threshold limits set by the Policy unless an exemption has been granted by an Operator. The Operator will be responsible for payment of registry-level fees to ICANN for any transactions that do not result in a refund of the registration fee.
The Policy defines net new registrations as the total number of net adds of one-year through ten-year registrations as defined in the monthly reporting requirement of Operator Agreements (i.e., an add of one year counts the same as an add of 10 years).
Operators that are currently required to submit in their monthly report the total number of AGP deletes (also referred to as domains-deleted-grace) per Registrar for the reporting period will continue to do so. Operators that offer an AGP but do not currently supply AGP deletes information in their monthly report will be required to do so. The implementation of the Policy, and its provision for Registrars to seek an exemption from an Operator in a given month from the AGP limits restriction, creates a new reporting requirement for Operators. Registrars may seek an exemption from an Operator in a given month upon the documented showing of extraordinary circumstances. The Policy states that acceptance of any exemption will be at the sole and reasonable discretion of the Operator. It is the Operator’s responsibility to define extraordinary circumstances, noting however, that extraordinary circumstances which reoccur regularly will not be deemed extraordinary.
Operators must keep copies of all exemption requests, subject to ICANN review, and must include in its comma or pipe separated-value formatted monthly report to ICANN the following information for each Registrar:
- Number of exemption requests
- Number of exemptions granted
- Number of names affected by granted exemption request
- Number of AGP deletes (domains-deleted-grace) if this information is not currently defined in the Operator’s monthly reporting requirement
Exemption request documentation maintained by the Operator must contain at least the following information:
- Registrar Name and IANA ID number
- Date of request
- Extraordinary circumstance/reason for request
- Number of domain names affected
- List of names affected
ICANN may request copies of exemption request documentation for analysis and reporting requirements to the GNSO on AGP delete activities subject to the same confidentiality restrictions applied to registry reports to ICANN (i.e., Registrar specific information could not be provided to the GNSO until 90 days after the applicable reporting period). Upon request, Operators must supply the exemption request documentation to ICANN within 10-business days.
Exemption request information that is submitted with the Operator’s monthly report will be treated with the same level of confidentiality as is currently exercised with monthly reports. The three-month delay in posting of Operator reports to ICANN’s website will continue.
Effect on Registrars
Following notice of the effective date of the Policy, all Registrars processing AGP deletes during the normal course of business will be subject to the Policy and will no longer receive refunds for excessive AGP deletes unless an exemption has been requested and granted by an Operator. Registrars are obligated to provide information required by Operators in order to have exemption requests considered.
Upon implementation of the Policy, Registrars will no longer be entitled to a refund of the registration fee by Operators for new registrations of domain names deleted during the AGP that exceed the 10% or 50 threshold maximum number of AGP deletes per top-level domain in a given month unless an exemption has been granted by an Operator. For example, if a Registrar had in a month 1,000 net new registrations in a TLD, had its account with the Operator auto-debited for US$6,000 (based on a price of US$6 per domain name registration), and had 250 AGP deletes, the Registrar would be entitled to a refund of US$600 for 100 AGP deletes (10% of 1,000 net new registrations at US$6 per domain name registration). The Registrar would not be entitled to an additional refund of US$900 for the 150 "excess" deletes made during the month. Prior to this Policy, the Registrar would have received a full refund for all the names deleted during the AGP.
For the purposes of clarity, the number of AGP deletes for which a Registrar is entitled to a refund of the registration fee paid is calculated on a per-TLD basis per month. That is, every Registrar is entitled to the threshold number of AGP deletes in a given month for each TLD where it has names under management. Furthermore, AGP deletes are calculated on a per unit basis of the total number of net new registrations for the month regardless of the term or number of terms for each net new registration (i.e., a new registration for one year and a new registration for 10 years are each counted as one new registration).
The Policy provides in Section 1(b) that a Registrar may seek an exemption from an Operator for the registration fees for excess deletes made during the AGP. The Registrar must supply, on or before the last day of the month following the deletion of the domain name(s), at least the following information to the Operator and Operators may choose to require additional information:
- Registrar Name
- IANA ID number
- Date of request
- Date names were deleted
- Number of names deleted
- List of names affected
- Extraordinary circumstance/reason for request
- A statement that the information in the Exemption Request is true to best of the Registrar’s knowledge.
The basis for the request must document how, at the time the names were deleted, the extraordinary circumstance was not known, reasonably could not be known, and was outside of the Registrar’s control. For example, an unforeseen defect in software development might not necessarily be considered to be something in the Registrar’s control.
Submission of an exemption request does not guarantee approval of the request as said acceptance is at the Operator’s sole and reasonable discretion.
Effect on ICANN Staff
ICANN will collect and analyze Operator monthly reports to track information on numbers of net new registrations and AGP deletes as well as Registrar exemption requests. ICANN will summarize this information and report it to the GNSO at six-month intervals for two years following implementation of the Policy subject to the same confidentiality restrictions applied to registry reports to ICANN (i.e., Registrar specific information could not be provided to the GNSO until 90 days after the latest applicable reporting period). Status reports will provide statistics on registration and AGP deletes information from Operator monthly reports that are publicly available on ICANN’s website. Operator monthly reports, for contractual reasons, are kept confidential for three months after the end of the month to which the report relates. ICANN may, at the request of the ICANN Board of Directors, provide reports with greater frequency if information is available, subject to the same confidentiality restrictions applied to registry reports to ICANN (i.e., Registrar specific information could not be provided to the GNSO until 90 days after the applicable reporting period). The reports to the GNSO will be posted for public information. In its semi-annual report to the GNSO, staff will provide the following:
- Operator names and the effective date of their implementation of the Policy.
- The number of net new registrations and AGP deletes, on an aggregate basis, for each month from each Operator.
- For Operators that have implemented the Policy, a review of all exemption requests submitted during the reporting period and the Operator response (approval or denial) to each request.
- The names of Registrars that have reoccurring requests for special exemptions and the reasons for those exemptions.
- Statistical information about the effects of the Policy on AGP deletes. The statistics will provide detailed information about numbers of AGP deletes per month by Operator. The statistics will compare AGP deletes information for the current and prior six-month period.
- A summary of observations of unexpected behaviors by Operators or Registrars that are perceived to be results of the implementation of the Policy.
- A recommendation by staff as to whether the GNSO should consider modifications to the Policy based upon actions during the reporting period.
In addition to the semi-annual reports to the GNSO, upon invitation, ICANN staff will be available to offer an implementation update to the GNSO Council at any of its regular meetings and calls during the period. Each update will include identifying Operators that have implemented or provided notice to implement the Policy as well as a summary of the effects of the Policy on AGP deletes for the prior month’s reporting period.
ICANN’s Contractual Compliance Department will monitor and annually audit Operators to ensure they implement the Policy in accordance with their Registry or Sponsor Agreement and that their monthly reports contain the required information about exemption requests. If ICANN should learn of allegations of unequal treatment of Registrars by Operators (e.g., identical requests made in the same month, but with different results), the matter may be investigated. Further, if ICANN has reason to believe an Operator is abusing the intent of the Policy (e.g., granting requests that occur regularly), the matter will be investigated and if required, appropriate action taken.
Measuring Success of the Policy
The intent of the Policy is to limit the behavior known as domain tasting through modifications to the AGP process.
At the conclusion of the two-year required reporting period, ICANN will submit to the GNSO a summary report of the results of the implementation of the Policy. The summary report will be similar to the semi-annual reports, but will cover a 24-month reporting period.
Following submission of the summary report to the GNSO and public posting of the document, ICANN will advise the GNSO whether modifications to the Policy should be considered based upon the results and experiences gained during the implementation and monitoring stages.
Factors that might be considered when measuring the success of the Policy could be:
- Public Interest Registry’s (PIR) experience following implementation of its Excess Deletions Fee registry service request that was approved by the ICANN Board on 26 November 2006. Information about the PIR registry service request is viewable at http://www.icann.org/en/registries/rsep/. On 26 May 2007, PIR implemented its excess deletions fee service and since that time the percentage of AGP deletes relative to initial registrations has decreased in one year from approximately 93% in May 2007 to approximately 15% in May 2008; and,
- NeuStar’s experience following implementation of its Modifications to the Existing Add Grace Period registry service request that was approved by the ICANN Board on 27 March 2008. Information about the NeuStar registry service request is viewable at http://www.icann.org/en/registries/rsep/. On 1 June 2008, NeuStar implemented it service and from the period 1 May 2008 through 30 June 2008 reported a decrease in the number of AGP deletes by approximately 95%.