Will New ICANN Rules Fight Domain Transfer Fraud?

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-11-28 Print this article Print

Opinion: Transfer requests will default to approval if holding registrar doesn't object. But will the new procedures help prevent theft of domain by transfer fraud?

Some observers are concerned that new rules governing the transfer of Internet domains between domain registrars that went into effect on Nov. 12 will facilitate theft of those domains and "slamming" by registrars. The new rules, originally announced by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) on July 12, were "approved unanimously by both ICANNs Generic Names Supporting Organization [GNSO] and its Board of Directors."

About a year ago I wrote about problems with domain registration transfers that made it all too easy to steal someone elses domain. I got a shocking amount of mail from victims of domain theft at the time and developed a low opinion of registrars. It was clear they all wanted to just bury the matter, and they dont get the benefit of the doubt from me anymore. (Register.coms Web site is scrupulously lacking in any information for press to use for contacts. There was a time when they had a contact and just moved slow on it, but they lack even this now.)

So I was ready to assume the worst when I read about the new rules. They streamline certain procedures so as to facilitate transfers in cases where the registrar previously holding the domain—the "registrar of record"—drags its feet. It seems the real problem, as ICANN puts it, was not registrars being too easy with transfers, but those not proceeding with a timely transfer when a legitimate request came in. And more specifically, Network Solutions has a lousy reputation in this regard. (Am I now accusing them of conflicting offenses, being too lax with transfer security and not willing enough to proceed with the transfer? Let them call me up and explain it to me.)

It seems that the sorts of problems I was observing have less to do with the transfers between registrars than with other security policies of the registrar, specifically changing the administrative contact information. The new ICANN policies shouldnt make the problems any worse because they still require that the registrar of record contact the owner. If the owner information is incorrect, its really a separate issue. And if there is a real dispute over a domain transfer, there is a set and orderly policy for dispute resolution.

Next Page: Incorrect owner information.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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