ICANN starts auditing registrars for data escrow compliance.
Last month ICANN sent a breach notice to domain registrar Parava Networks. Among several serious breaches, one of Parava’s faults was not escrowing its registrant data. ICANN’s Registrant Data Escrow (RDE) program requires domain registrars to escrow customer information with a third party provider. If the registrar fails or loses its accreditation, ICANN can tap the escrow data to ensure the safe transfer of domains to another registrar.
But if Parava, which managed over 30,000 domains including some easily worth six figures, was out of compliance, then is your registrar properly escrowing data?
I asked Mike Zupke, Registrar Liaison Manager at ICANN, how domain owners can be sure they are protected.
“ICANN has not published a list of registrars who are or are not compliant with their RDE requirement,” said Zupke. “Doing so would be complicated. Because data is held in escrow, it might appear that a registrar has begun escrowing data, but in fact, has undertaken to deposit garbage data.”
Publishing a list may give the false impression that your registrant data has been escrowed when it has not. ICANN is currently implementing an auditing program to ensure that registrars are submitting valid registrant information into escrow.
Registrars may hold back registrant data because they believe it gives them leverage with ICANN. If ICANN shuts down a registrar that has not escrowed data, it may be difficult to transfer the domains to another registrar while maintaining proper domain ownership records.
“The process of terminating a registrar for failure to escrow data is difficult and somewhat time consuming because ICANN’s priority is to ensure registrants are not harmed, and this means, we need to have access to the very registration data the registrar has failed to escrow in order to transfer the names to another registrar,” said Zupke.
Once the auditing procedure is underway, hopefully ICANN will feel comfortable publishing a list of out-of-compliance registrars.