ICANN Flips Switch on New Transfer Policy

The move simplifies the way top-level Internet domain names can be moved between registrars and protects consumers from abuse.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, on Friday flipped the switch on a new URL transfer policy, which aims to simplify the way domain names can be moved between registrars.

ICANN, the nonprofit outfit that coordinates the assignment of TLDs (top-level domain names), said the new policy will simplify and standardize the domain transfer process to prevent abuse.

"Similar to how telephone number portability works in many countries, enhanced domain name portability will provide for greater consumer and business choice, enabling domain-name registrants to select the registrar that offers the best services and price," ICANN said in a statement.

The new policy, which takes effect immediately, was originally announced July 12.

The tweaked policy promises strong protections against unauthorized transfers by requiring all TLD registrars to use "a clear, standardized form of authorization that provides for the express consent of the domain-name registrant prior to the initiation of any transfer," ICANN said.

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Among other things, it calls for registrars to:

  • Verify the identity of the registrant or administrative contact requesting the transfer by one of a number of approved methods to deter fraud;
  • Preserve the ability of registrants to "lock" their domains so they may not be transferred from the registrar, but requiring registrars to provide a readily accessible way for registrants to have their current registrar remove this lock at their request;
  • Allow registrants to transfer their domain names without having to "double-confirm" the transfer once the transfer has been reliably authenticated per the new policy.

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