Afilias, PIR, and Neustar explain their position on a critical change to the domain name sales channel.
Domain registries have a lot to lose if registry/registrar separation ends with the introduction of new top level domain names. Representatives of several registries, including Afilias, Public Interest Registry, and Neustar, have sent a letter (pdf) to ICANN’s board and CEO that says ICANN is misstating the registry constituency’s position on registry/registrar separation.
The three registries say they have no problem with registrars entering the registry market, provided that they don’t sell second level domains for the TLDs they offer registry services for. In explaining the problems of integrated registries and registrars, the companies wrote:
If allowed to go forward, this proposed deregulation will facilitate “insider tradingâ€ that will open the door to abusive domain registration practices and higher domain name prices for some registrants. It will provide the affiliated registrar access to sensitive registry data that includes the entire universe of data for potential and existing domain names from all registrars that sell the TLD. A registry has the unique power to see DNS traffic in its domain; with access to this data, an affiliated registrar would be in a unique position to identify potentially high value names and monetize them through auctions, traffic sites or secondary market sales.
Here’s one point that isn’t covered in the letter: a combined registry/registrar can severely undercut other registrar’s pricing. If I run the registry for .web, I can offer .web domains through my own registrar for little more than the fees I pay ICANN on the registry side. That makes it hard for other registrars to compete.
[Update: I was just forwarded a link to a web site the registries have set up to explain registry/registrar separation and what they believe is at stake.]