Big issue on the table at ICANN retreat.
In about 24 hours the ICANN Board of Directors will kick off a retreat. It’s not an official board meeting, but it’s anticipated that the two day retreat will finalize an important issue: registry/registrar separation.
A lot is at stake in this decision. Millions of dollars for the stakeholders.
Until now a registry hasn’t been able to own a registrar and (technically) vice-versa. Afilias is owned by a number of registrars, though.
The question is if this separation should be relaxed.
In one corner are the registrars that would like to introduce new top level domain names. Ideally they would like to be unencumbered. But some of them, including eNom, are willing to go the middle road. The middle ground proposal is dubbed JN2. It basically says a registrar can be a registry but with heavy restrictions until 18 months after the TLD is released.
In the other corner are those that want no integration. They want to limit cross ownership to 2%. In Afilias’ case, it wants to increase cross ownership to 15% because of its existing registrar investors.
You can read about the various proposals and how no consensus has been reached here.
Another issue is private registrars. Should someone who owns a registrar solely to manage their own domains be restricted from releasing a new TLD? That would defeat the purpose of this restriction.
The pressure is on ICANN’s board. Like any good bureaucratic and political organization, odds are they’ll pick the middle of the road. Or punt to someone else.