At the public forum held at ICANN's annual meeting in Los Angeles on November 3, 1999, a group of registrars presented the following concerns regarding the tentative agreements among ICANN, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Network Solutions, Inc. announced on September 28, 1999. As a result, the three parties negotiated changes to the agreements overnight. The ICANN Board approved revised agreements on November 4, 1999.
The accredited registrars have reviewed the agreements that the ICANN Board is being asked to approve. Among the registrars' concerns with these agreements are the following widely-shared issues relating to the agreements:
Issue: The proposed agreements would exempt NSI in its capacity as a registrar from the requirement that all registrars are assured of payment of registration fees before activating a domain name. This exemption would give NSI a competitive advantage over other registrars.
Proposal: NSI has stated that as a technological matter, they cannot meet the prepayment requirement at this time. To create a level playing field, NSI should not be allowed to change its domain name registration pricing until it is able to comply with the prepayment requirements.
Issue: Amendment 11 prohibits the NSI registrar from entering into exclusive agreements with its customers (effectively partners) for a period of eighteen months from the onset of the test bed in order to facilitate the entry of competitive registrars into the market. An apparent drafting inconsistency was created in Amendment 19 which could be interpreted to eliminate the exclusivity prohibition.
Proposal: Amendment 19 should be clarified to indicate that it does not remove the exclusivity prohibition contained in Amendment 11. Furthermore, because the test bed was extended for four months, thereby delaying the entry of new registrars into the market, the exclusivity prohibition should be extended for a corresponding four months in order not to disadvantage the new registrars.
Issue: The current agreements do not contain any standards for measuring the technical and service performance of the registry.
Proposal: The contracts must be modified to establish effective measuring standards and corresponding remedies to ensure that the registry operates in a reliable and stable manner. Such standards are typical in these kinds of managed service environments, and should be considered without any increase in the $6 per year per domain name registration fees paid by the registrars to the registry. Attached is a proposed amendment to the contract addressing this issue that was discussed with the NSI registry.
Issue: Changes in the annual accreditation fees paid by the registrars to ICANN must be approved by registrars accounting for payment of two-thirds of all registrar level fees. NSI will account for two-thirds of these fees in the foreseeable future and thus control this vote.
Proposal: Changes in accreditation fees should more properly be approved by a consensus of all accredited registrars.
Issue: The current agreements propose a six-month transition for NSI to discontinue pointing rs.internic.net to the NSI registrar's whois database. This lengthy transition will continue to confuse consumers and businesses that view rs.internic.net as the definitive source of whois data.
Proposal: rs.internic.net should resolve to the NSI registry database.
Issue: Under the proposed contracts, NSI owns the SRS protocol necessary to access the current gTLD registry. The agreements do not provide for new gTLD registries to have access to the SRS protocol. This may lead to the development of multiple protocols to be used by registrars when communicating with multiple registries and inhibit the use of new gTLDs.
Proposal: The agreements should make the SRS protocol publicly available to accredited registrars and registries to ensure a uniform standard.
Issue: Domain name holders may not be aware that there are multiple registrars who can assist them in registering gTLDs.
Proposal: There should be an ICANN sponsored mechanism to educate the public about the registrar service options available.