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ICANN: All your Base Agreement are belong to us

ICANN responds to (some) questions about why it decided to remove price controls.

Meme "All your base are belong to us" but with "All your base agreement are belong to us" referring to ICANN

Earlier this month, Internet Commerce Association asked ICANN to explain its decision to remove price controls on .org domains.

Cyrus Namazi, Senior Vice-President Global Domains Division, has responded (pdf). What he said is what many people feared when the ICANN community worked on a base agreement for new top level domain names: it is being used as the foundation for all top level domains, not just the new ones.

I recall people specifically warning against this during new top level domain discussions. They pointed out that new TLDs are being introduced in a different market and by different rules than legacy top level domains and that it was important to draw a distinction between the two.

From the letter:

The Base RA was developed to support the new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) being created through the 2012 New gTLD Program. It was developed through the bottom-up multistakeholder process including multiple rounds of public comment and aligns with the underlying Generic Names Supporting Organization’s (GNSO’s) policy recommendations for new gTLDs. Established in 2013, the Base RA now applies to over 1,200 gTLDs. The ICANN org has consistently used the Base RA as the starting point for discussions with legacy gTLD operators about renewing their Registry Agreements. The Base RA provides additional safeguards and security and stability requirements compared to legacy agreements. Since 2014, several legacy gTLDs have renewed their agreements adopting the Base RA: cat, .jobs, .mobi, .pro, .tel, .travel, and most recently, .asia, .biz, .info, and .org.

Had the community discussions when formulating the new TLD base agreement earlier this decade  been about creating a new agreement that applied to all top level domains, I can assure you the results would have been very different.

Namazi’s response also includes ICANN’s common refrain about price increases: that registrants can renew for ten years at today’s prices if an increase is announced.

Great, but who is around ten years from now to handle the complaints from registrants?

Or, who handles the complaints from registrants who didn’t know about the price increase? Sure, the registry gave notice to the registrars, but did the registrant ever find out?

Cyrus’ response is in paragraph form and does not explicitly answer all of Internet Commerce Association’s numbered questions.

ICANN will have to provide more answers in response to a Request for Reconsideration filed by domain registrar Namecheap.

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  1. Kate says

    In short, there is nothing new in this letter, and no justification for the unjustifiable.

    what we need now is an antitrust lawsuit.

    • John says

      That’s right, the time for talk is over. They have showed their true colors, showed there is no reasoning and no good faith, showed their position is that the whole world except the oligarchs and plutocrats is their bitch.

      So what are the collective “you” going to do about it? Keep letting them string you along and make your their bitch by thinking more talk can accomplish anything? Keep dreaming.

      • Snoopy says

        Best thing people can do is forget about anything not .Com.

        .Com has government mandated price controls and messing with it will be far harder.

        • Matt says

          Who knows if eventually .com prices will increase. Can you imagine if they double, triple or go even higher?

          End users can probably take it (with one or two names), but for domain investors with hundreds or even thousands this would be a bigger problem.

          Big question is what can realistically be done about this, for .org and to protect .com?

          • John says

            There are end users with hundreds, whose business model requires that. I’m one of them. I don’t doubt some with thousands too. So some ICANN mouthpiece glibly saying people can just renew for 10 years while seeking to justify the unjustifiable is utterly thoughtless, callous and mindless.

          • John says

            P.S. And when you do business in such a way instead of inside some tiny little one size fits all box that some unthinking person decides works for the entire world, you want and need to be nimble. The last thing on earth you want is to have to pay out for 10 years for every single domain. Some you may keep, some you may drop, some you may register anew, etc.

  2. Tim says

    Ironically, Jonathon Nevett (current CEO of PIR) made the following written point to ICANN in 2006:

    “Moreover, the “right to enter into ten-year registrations” already exists and is not a viable constraint because the overwhelming majority of registrants favor one- to two-year registrations.”

    Johathon is exactly right – the vast majority of consumers only renew domains for one year at a time. Consumers – in general – don’t renew domains for multiple years upfront (let alone 10-years.)

    More significantly, most registrants have domains on auto-renew – meaning the customer is automatically billed the renewal fee for an additional 1-year period when the domain name is up for expiration. Consumers expect and believe domain names to automatically renew each year. This is standard practice in the industry and the norm.

    Claiming consumers are protected by forcing them to spend 10 X fees upfront to cover the next 10 future years is misguided. ICANN does not have any requirement that consumers must be notified. Even if consumers are notified, many of them will miss notifications and fail to understand and take specific actions to secure prices for the next 10-years. Expecting customers to change behavior – and to lay out over $100 to renew a domain for 10 years – and pay the full amount upfront, is disingenuous.

    Consumers should not have to pay fees 10 years in advanced for protection against supracompetitive pricing.

    ICANN’s actions causes direct harm to consumers at large with all of the money flowing to one non-profit company.

    Crazy ICANN puts the interest of one single contracted registry, PIR, ahead of 10+ million worldwide registrants.

    Most importantly, consumers will be forced to pay higher prices in 10 years.

    ICANN – please explain how consumers will be protected in 10 years’ time?

  3. Tim says

    Not all registrars offer 10-year registrations (nor are they required to do so.) Thus, ICANN’s claim consumers can prepay the entire amount upfront (for up to 10 years) holds little weight. If there is no specific requirement that ICANN accredited registrars must offer consumers the ability to register or renew domains for multiple years at once, how can they lock in pricing??

    Again, beyond the 10-year period, how does ICANN protect consumers? I would love to understand how ICANN justifies consumers are protected beyond 10 years.

  4. Polumbus says

    This is just insane. Purely stupid. Nonsensical. Common ICANN. Read my comments from the public comment period. This is not what the world wants or needs!!!

  5. John says

    As Kate pointed out so well above, this is so *unjustifiable* and so insane that there really should be an investigation into the possibility some members of ICANN were bribed into it. Among other things.

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