.Com winners and losers

Here’s how registrars fared with .com in February.

ICANN has published the latest Verisign .com monthly report, containing data from February.

Let’s start by reviewing which registrars added the most new .com domain name registrations:

1. GoDaddy 912,763*
2. Rightside 203,096**
3. Tucows 106,910
4. PublicDomainRegistry 92,847
5. Network Solutions 62,104

When it comes to companies that won the transfer game, here are the top five registrars with retail operations for February. These numbers are the net gains after taking into consideration transfers-out: Click here to continue reading…

Register.com Must Stop “Call In” Practice by March

Transfer authorization code process will be easier under new ICANN policy.

Under ICANN’s new Policy on Transfer of Registrations between Registrars, which goes into effect March 15, Register.com will no longer be able to require customers to call the company to request transfer authorization codes. These codes are used to transfer domains to a different domain registrar. (See Register.com’s Customer Service Lie)

The policy states “Registrars may not employ any mechanism for complying with a Registered Name Holder’s request to obtain the applicable “AuthInfo Code” that is more restrictive than the mechanisms used for changing any aspect of the Registered Name Holder’s contact or name server information.”

In other words, if a registrar allows customers to change contact information or name server information online, it must allow them to request and receive transfer authorization codes online.

I could see a registrar trying to require a call to change the registered name holder’s contact information under the guise of security. But the policy says “OR” name server information, so unless a registrar requires customers to call in to change name servers, they will have a difficult time finding a loophole in this provision. Register.com is the only major registrar I know of that forces its customers to call to get a transfer code. Smaller registrars — including many of those participating in expired domain sites — sometimes have arduous procedures as well.

GoDaddy’s 60 Day Transfer Lock Closer to Termination

GNSO Council approves changes to domain transfer blocks.

One of GoDaddy’s most complained about policies is that it blocks transfers of domain names that have had certain changes to their whois information within the past 60 days.

In September 2007 ICANN began working on an advisory that targeted transfer blocks like this. After ICANN finalized its advisory this past April I was happy to report that GoDaddy appeared to be allowing transfers even if changes were made to the whois information.

Alas, other people have told me they still get transfers blocked at GoDaddy. I tested it today and found that if you make any changes to the registrant name or organization name, GoDaddy indeed requires you to agree to a 60 day lock:

For security purposes I authorize the rejection of all transfer requests for all selected domain names for a period of 60 days from the date of this Registrant Name Change. I have read the Domain Name Change Registrant Agreement and agree to its terms for all selected domain names.

When I asked GoDaddy Vice President of Corporate Development & Policy Tim Ruiz about this in April, he said in a statement “Go Daddy always has and will continue to comply with ICANN rules and regulations.”

Ruiz told the truth but dodged the question. Technically the 60 day lock issue isn’t an ICANN “rule” or “regulation”. Yet. It was an advisory that had a couple more steps to go. There was a comment period and then a couple changes to how it was written, and today the GNSO Council voted to approve the changes. Now it’s hopefully off to the board for approval and then implementation. In a perfect world it is only a few more months before the rule change is fully implemented.

One person helping to push through the changes is Internet Commerce Association Executive Director Michael Collins.

So the writing is on the wall for the transfer policy at GoDaddy. It’s just taking a bit longer than domain owners would like.

GoDaddy Allows Transfers After Whois Changes

GoDaddy complies with ICANN advisory for transferring domain names.

Last September I wrote that GoDaddy might have to end its controversial practice of denying transfers-out when a domain owner changes whois information in the preceding 60 days.

A few weeks ago ICANN finalized the advisory that I wrote about, and it seems to target GoDaddy specifically. The advisory basically says that registrars can’t deny transfer requests due to changes in whois information, as this would violate ICANN rules that require registrants to keep their data up-to-date. Furthermore, it specifically says registrars can’t make users “opt-in” to the lock when they change whois information (something that GoDaddy did).

I contacted GoDaddy earlier this month to see if it was complying with the advisory. Tim Ruiz, Go Daddy’s Vice President of Corporate Development & Policy, said in a statement “Go Daddy always has and will continue to comply with ICANN rules and regulations.”

Fair enough, but I decided to test it by changing my whois information for FileVirtualization.com and then transferring it to Moniker the next day. I’m happy to report that the transfer was successful.

Network Solutions is the only other major registrar I know that put 60 day locks on domains. The company has not responded to repeated requests for comment about this issue.

It’s worth noting that ICANN’s advisory lacks teeth. The only thing ICANN can do to stop a registrar from a practice like this is to take away its accreditation. This is a “nucleur option” and rarely practiced until it’s too late — and wouldn’t be used against the world’s biggest registrar unless the situation was dire. ICANN needs the power to levy fines against registrars who fail to comply.