But not fast enough for some registrars that fear losing their accreditation.
ICANN Vice President of Domain Name Services Cyrus Namazi has sent a letter (pdf) to domain name registrars regarding their concerns over legal implications of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA).
In a nutshell, the letter says ICANN is still exploring resolution to conflicts with local laws. In the meantime, some accredited registrars’ ability to sell new top level domain names — and soon .com domain names — is in limbo.
The 2013 RAA includes new requirements on data that require domain name registrars to retain certain data for a length of time after a customer leaves them. Many registrars, particularly in the European Union, believe the rules violate their local laws.
The RAA includes a provision for registrars to get a waiver to the retention policies in order to comply with local laws. But that process isn’t going smoothly nor quickly.
As a result, many domain name registrars haven’t signed the latest RAA. Signing the RAA is a requirement to sell new top level domain names, so many European registrars aren’t selling them yet.
Not being able to sell new TLDs is kind of a big deal to registrars. But there’s a ticking time bomb that makes this issue even more serious. The last RAA came out in 2009 and lasts for five years. That means that many registrars are about to have their accreditation expire unless they sign the 2013 RAA.
If you lose your accreditation, you lose the ability to sell gTLDs like .com.
Namazi’s letter to registrars, which effectively says “we’re working on it”, will provide little comfort to registrars that feel their entire business is in limbo.
The letter also mentions WHOIS conflicts with local law, which could affect European registries for new top level domain names.
Michele Neylon runs one of the registrars in legal limbo, Blacknight. Neylon told Domain Name Wire today:
ICANN has known about the issues for over a year. They delayed providing any form of “process” for requesting waivers until October of last year, which is 6 months after the final version of the RAA was published and 4 months after the first registrars signed on.
Over a dozen EU based registrars have requested waivers from ICANN. All have invested time and money in seeking external legal advice as per ICANN’s broken process. That EU based companies need to even go through this process is laughable, as we are effectively being asked to request permission to not break our own laws. Meanwhile the EU DPAs, as represented by the Article 29 Working Party, have repeatedly told ICANN that the clauses in question are not compatible. ICANN’s response to them as well as us has been to delay matters.
While I cannot speak for every individual EU based registrar I know that any I have spoken to are both frustrated and angry. ICANN’s inability to address this issue is impacting our ability to do business.
Should we now sue ICANN for loss of earnings?