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EFF files reconsideration request over .Org decision

Advocacy group blasts ICANN decision to apply URS to legacy top level domain.

Electronic Frontier Foundation logoElectronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a Reconsideration Request with ICANN over the terms of ICANN’s contract renewal for .org with Public Interest Registry.

It’s the second Reconsideration Request filed over the .org contract extension. Namecheap filed one primarily focused on pricing. EFF’s filing (pdf) focuses on the extension of Uniform Rapid Suspension to .org and permission from ICANN for PIR to “at its election, implement additional protections of the legal rights of third parties” unilaterally and without further consultation with existing .org registrants or the ICANN community.

EFF notes that these provisions were developed for the rollout of new top level domains, not legacy domains like .org. Now ICANN is extending them to legacy top level domains.

ICANN points to the bottom-up decision making in designing the new base agreement for new top level domains as justification for applying it to all new top level domains:

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.

But that’s not what the community decided when it designed the base agreement. The community differentiated between “new” top level domains and old ones, and for good reasons. EFF is a member of the GNSO Working Group for Review of All Rights Protection Mechanisms in All gTLDs, which is tasked with determining if things like URS should be applied to legacy TLDs.

EFF also points out ICANN’s flawed thinking about choice in new top level domains: that if someone isn’t happy with how a TLD operates, it can just switch domains.

Some might respond that .org registrants should simply change to a different TLD, but such change is often extremely difficult and costly for longstanding .org users. A group like EFF, or Amnesty International, will have spent decades building value in their existing domain names and would incur enormous costs in switching.

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