ICANN Threatens RegisterFly Termination FINALLY after 1.5 yrs of grievances

ICANN’s not exactly advertising this—no conspicuous notice appears on its home page and, more curiously, no update has been posted by the Ombudsman despite two prior postings about RegisterFly in the past week. A member of the general public would be hard pressed to find out that any action has been threatened.

 

ICANN sent a 10-page letter to RegisterFly on February 21st threatening to terminate its accreditation. The letter is available here .

ICANN’s not exactly advertising this—no conspicuous notice appears on its home page and, more curiously, no update has been posted by the Ombudsman despite two prior postings about RegisterFly in the past week. A member of the general public would be hard pressed to find out that any action has been threatened.

This February 21st letter provides some interesting information:

RegisterFly has 15 days to cure the multiple breaches or ICANN will give notice of termination of its Registry Accreditation Agreement. At that point, RegisterFly must either shut down or request arbitration. So they will be open for business for at least two more weeks and possibly longer. (Question: Might RegisterFly file bankruptcy in the next two weeks and try to use bankruptcy protection as a means of preventing ICANN from terminating its accreditation?)

ICANN and RegisterFly have had three face to face meetings to discuss ongoing breaches over the past year.

RegisterFly was accredited in October 2004 and complaints began to be filed against it in late 2005. In other words, it began to mishandle customer accounts right around the time the first of its registrations was up for annual renewal—certainly a major red flag.

Reports of “stolen names” began to be filed with ICANN in April 2006, so it has had knowledge of serious charges indicating possible malfeasance for almost one year.

An audit request filed by ICANN on May 26, 2006 was not complied with through the furnishing of full documentation until October 4, 2006 – why did ICANN let more than four months pass?

ICANN received a slew of high-level complaints about RegisterFly last month, January 2007, from other registrars, members of its own Board, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Substantial harm was indeed done to domain name owners who were RegisterFly’s customers—details range from the micro (one customer had 592 domain name transfers fail in October 2006) to the macro (at least 75,000 registrations were “lost” in January 2007). It seems possible that hundreds of thousands of domain name registrations, renewals or transfers were not carried out, causing harm to thousands of domain name owners – yet ICANN has yet to provide any guidance to RegisterFly customers as to how they may seek return of their domain names or compensation.

ICANN may have no other arrows in its quiver for use against RegisterFly other than to terminate accreditation. But, while it may not be fair to say this is “too little”, one has to wonder why decisive action came so late.

Post from Philip S Corwin.