27 August 2001
BY TELECOPY AND MAIL
Ms. Christine A. Russo
Re: VeriSign GRS Request for Guidance on Registrar Transfer Process
I have reviewed the issues discussed in your 6 June 2001 letter seeking ICANN guidance on the interpretation of the various legal agreements concerning transfers of registration sponsorship between registrars. While appreciating the registry's need to address the many issues that have arisen regarding the transfer process, I did not respond immediately because it appeared appropriate to allow discussions to proceed in the registrar community to better define the issues before definitively formulating any advice to VGRS. Please accept my apologies if this delay has resulted in anyone thinking that VGRS has not been responsive to their concerns.
VGRS has been presented with a variety of inquiries concerning the transfer process, with several registrars registering complaints about several registrars. Addressing each of the complaints will undoubtedly require careful attention to the factual background of each matter, and some of the inquiries involve very specific issues of interpretation. Although willing to consult with the registry regarding the more specific issues as necessary, for the time being it seems more helpful to limit my advice to a few general observations that should assist in resolving many of the inquiries.
In general, the "Policy on Transfer of Sponsorship of Registrations Between Registrars" that appears as Part A of Exhibit B of the Registry-Registrar Agreement is intended to allow implementation of consumer choices of registrars. This goal can be summed up in two simple propositions:
The overall goal of implementing consumer choices, which was fully recognized by those who drafted the transfer policy, serves as an important guide to interpretation of the policy's specific provisions.
Most of the recent complaints and disputes about registrar transfers concern the roles of the gaining and losing registrars in determining the desires of the Registered Name Holder. Under the policy, the gaining registrar is responsible for obtaining "express authorization from an individual who has the apparent authority to legally bind the Registered Name holder", to "retain a record of reliable evidence of the authorization", and to provide the losing registrar "a copy of the authorization if and when requested." The policy provides that the losing registrar should approve or deny the transfer as appropriate in the circumstances. The policy states four instances in which a transfer may be denied, but indicates that those are only illustrations of a losing registrar's more general ability to deny transfers in appropriate circumstances.
From the language of the policy, it seems apparent that:
Various participants in the ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization, including the Registrars Constituency, have begun considering what procedures should be followed by gaining registrars in ensuring that transfers are in fact authorized by the Registered Name Holder, so as to promote the overall goal of implementing the consumer's wishes. We encourage these discussions and expect that as they progress the potential for disagreements over transfers will be greatly reduced.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the observations above about the transfer policy. ICANN looks forward to working cooperatively with the registry staff to continue to address transfer issues in a manner that benefits the broader Internet community.
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