Background on Registration Abuse Policies (RAP)
What is 'registration abuse'? The specific definition is part of what the Registration Abuse Policy (RAP) Working Group is deciding. In general, the term covers a broad variety of illegal or illegitimate behaviors considered contrary to the intent and design of normal domain registration processes. Registration abuse often involves malicious actors trying to register in ways that avoid lawful authorities or conceal a registrant's identity. Registration abuse can also enable other kinds of abuses, such as phishing and spam.
On 25 September 2008, the GNSO Council adopted a motion requesting an issues report on registration abuse provisions in registry-registrar agreements. The objective of the issues report was to identify existing provisions in registry-registrar agreements relating to abuse, as well as to identify and describe potential options for further Council consideration.
The GNSO Council reviewed and discussed the Registration Abuse Policies Issues Report and decided at its meeting on 18 December, instead of initiating a policy development process (PDP), to form a Working Group charged with investigating the open issues identified in the Registration Abuse Policies report. A drafting team was formed to develop a charter for this Working Group. The team's draft charter was adopted by the GNSO Council on 19 February 2009. In its charter, the Registration Abuse Policies Working Group has been tasked to investigate further the open issues identified in the Issues Report, such as the difference between registration abuse and domain name use abuse; the effectiveness of existing registration abuse policies; and which areas, if any, would be suitable for GNSO policy development to address registration abuse.
The RAP Working Group held its first meeting at ICANN's Mexico City meeting, in conjunction with a public workshop (which has been transcribed here). The workshop encouraged community discussion and input on some of the issues outlined above. This initial exchange of views served as a basis of knowledge and information from which the Working Group continued its deliberation.
The RAP Working Group also held an open meeting at the ICANN meeting in Seoul, Korea. There, it briefed the community on its activities and discussions to date, including updates from the different sub-teams that have been created (see below for further information).
The Working Group has now started meeting weekly, with the objective of delivering an Initial Report for review at the ICANN meeting to be held in March 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya. To this end, the Working Group has generated a document that provides working definitions of types and categories of abuse, and cites the primary target for each abuse type. The Working Group has continued reviewing the list of abuses it defined, including domain tasting, fake renewal notices, pay-per-click and cybersquatting.
In addition, a number of sub-teams are reviewing related issues. For example, a Uniformity of Contracts sub-team formed, and meets regularly to review existing abuse provisions in registrar and registry agreements and to discuss questions related to the uniformity of contracts. The sub-team ponders issues such as, would there be benefits to having more uniformity in contracts? How effective are existing provisions in dealing with registration abuse? Other subteams are addressing spam, phishing and malware, and, Whois availability. It is expected that all this information will be gathered into one Initial Report for community review, before finalizing the report.
The GNSO Council will decide whether or not to initiate a PDP on registration abuse policies after the RAP Working Group presents its findings.