29 November, 2010

Registrar Speculation in Domain Names: new gTLD implications

Over the course of the last few days we have learned that ICANN-accredited registrar RU-CENTER registered in its own name 24,500 .рф domains and then promptly put them up for auction -- one example:  prostitutki.RF” that was auctioned for 190,000 U.S. dollars.

Yes, this happened in the world of IDN ccTLDs...

but it just as easily could happen with new gTLDs because ICANN's Registrar Accreditation Agreement still has no provisions governing domain name speculation by registrars -- clause 3.7.9 only states:  "Registrar shall abide by any ICANN adopted specifications or policies prohibiting or restricting warehousing of or speculation in domain names by registrars" ...and of course, there are no such policies or specifications.

What's to stop any accredited registrar from speculating in new gTLD domain names, from hoarding a trove of domain names, from auctioning off the pick of the litter that they have obtained for themselves through gaming of the system?

In the current situation, the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) immediately took action to protect the public interest.  In the gTLD world (where up to 500 new TLDS might be launched within a single year), who will rush in to protect the public?

One thing's for sure... It sure won't be ICANN.

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