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8
Feb

Tell ICANN what you think of their plan to raise the price of .com!

Your .COM domain name is going to cost over 30% more unless ICANN, the group in charge of the domain name system, listens to the public and changes its mind about price increases. We created a tool to help you submit your viewpoint to ICANN. It takes 30 seconds! Use the tool here.

ICANN sets the price for .COM domains.  Verisign is the sole-source supplier of .COM domain names at the wholesale level, giving them an effective monopoly. Verisign charges $7.85 per year to register or renew a .COM domain name each year.  Verisign’s costs are estimated at between $2.50 to $2.90 per domain name per year.  Everything above that is pure profit.

Verisign already enjoys one of the highest profit margins of any company in the world. A further price increase is not justified. Yet ICANN staff want Verisign to increase prices on .COM registrants by 7% per year from the current $7.85 to $10.26 after four years. This will impose hundreds of millions of dollars of added expense on .COM registrants – simply to benefit Verisign.

ICANN is supposed to act in the public interest and to be responsive to public comment.  Here’s your chance! Take 30 seconds to let ICANN know what you think.

 


You can learn more about the issue in the following articles:

DomainInvesting: ICA: “Oppose price hikes on .Com”

Circle ID: Verisign’s Attempt to Increase its Fees Still Unjustified Despite Diversionary Tactic

Circle ID: Hundreds of Millions of Dollars at Stake as .COM Price Freeze Set to Expire

Domain Name Wire: .Com prices are going up after Verisign pays off ICANN

The Register: ICANN extracts $20m signing fee for $1bn dot-com price increases – and guess who’s going to pay for it?

 

15
Jan

ICA Public Comment to ICANN on the .COM price increase

The ICA submitted its comment to ICANN in connection with the Proposed Amendment 3 to the .COM Registry Agreement. ICA voices its concerns as to the effectiveness of ICANN’s Public Comment process in general as well as demonstrates that ICANN allowing Verisign to charge more for .COM domains is not justifiable.

We encourage everyone to read our full comment and to submit their own in opposition of ICANN allowing increases on .COM domains. You can do so here.

Read the full letter here: Letter to Cyrus Namazi – January 15 2020

3
Jan

ICA STATEMENT on ICANN’S ANNOUNCED CHANGES to the .COM REGISTRY AGREEMENT

ICANN’s announcement that it “reached a proposed agreement” with Verisign to amend the .com registry agreement raises serious concerns and questions. The Internet Commerce Association will be closely studying the proposed changes and will deliver its comments to ICANN in due course.

Amongst the preliminary concerns and questions that ICANN’s announcement raises are the following

  1. The proposed price increase imposes hundreds of millions of dollars of unjustified expenses on .com registrants for the sole benefit of a registry provider that is already grossly overpaid for the services it provides. That ICANN puts the interest of one powerful company over the interests of millions of registrants raises questions as to ICANN’s legitimacy, its accountability and its governance structure.
  2. Why does ICANN go through the charade of putting the agreement that it already reached out for public comment? Surely the time to seek meaningful public feedback is before reaching an agreement. Moreover, as we saw with the overwhelming public opposition to the renewed .org Registry Agreement, ICANN just does what it wants anyhow. ICANN’s pretense that it is responsive to the public interest is a farce.
  3. Who wants higher .com prices? Is there any stakeholder or group, other than Verisign, that is eager to raise prices on .com? There isn’t, save and except perhaps other registry businesses that envision being able to raise their own prices as .com pricing goes higher. If ICANN was truly looking after the public interest and was truly acting in the best interest of stakeholders and registrants in particular, there would be no impetus whatsoever to raise prices.
  4. ICANN’s express claim that it “is not a price regulator” is nothing more than a misguided effort at misdirection in respect of its actual obligations and duties as the steward of the .com registry. First, of course ICANN is not a regulator – only governments are regulators. Rather, ICANN is a steward that is mandated to look after the public interest, and is the sole party able to negotiate terms with its registry operator service providers. Accordingly, ICANN does not need to be a regulator to prevent unjustified price hikes on .com domain names – it just needs to fulfil its duty as the steward.
  5. In fact, ICANN expressly admits, in the very same statement wherein it states that “it is not a price regulator”, that “pricing certainty [will be achieved] by limiting the potential maximum wholesale price for .COM domain names”. Pricing certainty is one of the most fundamental obligations of a steward entrusted with ensuring the stability of the Internet, as without pricing stability on .COM domain names massive upheaval could occur if captive market registrants face unrestrained pricing. ICANN goes on to state, “the .COM TLDis an important part of global commerce, making its continued secure, stable and resilient operation a top priority for both ICANN and Verisign”. And presumably, ICANN and the Department of Commerce realizes that, and that is precisely why price caps are necessary in the absence of the preferable competitive marketplace where registry contracts are put out for competitive bid, thereby assuring that the fees imposed by the .com registry for providing registry services reasonably reflect market rates.
  6. The price increase from the current wholesale price of $7.85 to the maximum price in 2024, of $10.26, represents a $2.41 annual increase. That means that in October 2024, Verisign will be receiving an additional windfall of $344,630,000 per year, assuming that .COM registrations do not rise even further as they are expected to. Verisign is already making billions of dollars in pure profit from its ICANN contract, and there is absolutely no reasonable justification for increasing its revenue other than that it is good for Verisign. It is not good, however, for anyone else. Once again, ICANN is the victim of its long history of making woefully improvident deals on behalf of the Internet community. The pitiful $20 million that ICANN is to receive when Verisign is poised to make billions off of this deal is just the latest example.
3
Dec

Take Part in the NTEN Organized Community Call on the Internet Society Sale of PIR / .ORG

NTEN is organizing a call this Thursday, December 5th, at 12 PM PST, 3 PM EST. They will be joined by Electronic Frontier Foundation, The National Council of Nonprofits, and Internet Society chapter leaders, as well as Jon Nevett from Public Interest Registry, and Erik Brooks and Nora Abusitta from Ethos Capital. Andrew Sullivan from Internet Society has been invited but has not confirmed participation.

You do not need to register with NTEN to participate. NTEN will post access details by 12/4/19 on this event listing.

Anybody interested in this important and controversial issue us encouraged to attend the call, submit and ask questions of the participants. To submit questions in advance, please email savedotorg@nten.org.

Events

 

12
Sep

ICA’s Letter to ICANN’s Ombudsman on his Response to NameCheap’s Request for Reconsideration

During ICANN’s public comment period on lifting price caps on .org domains, over 3200 people submitted comments, overwhelmingly opposing price cap removals.

ICANN however, seemingly ignoring these comments, has granted PIR the right to raise prices on .org domains.

In response, NameCheap, a well-known domain registrar, has submitted a Request for Reconsideration to ICANN. Yesterday, ICANN’s Ombudsman, Herb Waye, sided with ICANN, equating many of the comments submitted as “spam”, generated through form letters provided by the ICA.

ICA is hugely disappointed in the Ombudsman’s response, which mischaracterizes the nature of the submitted comments. We ask for an apology to the numerous people who sent those comments in and to retract his ill-advised statements. 

You can read the full letter we sent to the Ombudsman here.

If you’re inclined to let ICANN know how they can improve their comment process, you have until tomorrow, Friday 13th, to fill out their survey here. Ironically, one of the questions in the survey asks whether you’d “respond more often to Public Comments if the consultation included short and precise questions regarding the subject matter.”

Letter to ICANN Ombudsman September 12, 2019

21
Aug

ICA Advises ICANN Board to Support Existing Protections for International Organizations

ICA’s recommendation is that while IGOs and INGOs should have effective access to rights protection mechanisms which reasonably meet their unique requirements not to submit to national courts, no new procedure is required because they can use the UDRP.

Read the full letter: Letter to Mary Wong re GNSO Policy Development Process on IGO-INGO Access to Curative Rights Protection Mechanisms Policy Recommendations for ICANN Board Consideration

3
May

ICA Comment Letters Regarding Proposed Renewal of .biz and .asia Registry Agreements

In addition to the previously submitted comment letters on the .org and .info registry agreements, the ICA has also submitted comments to ICANN on the .biz and .asia registry agreements.

ICA Comment on Asia Proposed RegistryAgreement Renewal

ICA Comment on biz Proposed Registry Agreement Renewal

 

1
May

PIR .ORG REGISTRY DOESN’T RULE OUT PRICE HIKES

In a statement released today, PIR, the operator of the .ORG domain name registry, did not rule out the possibility of substantial price hikes on .org domain names if its new proposed contract is approved by ICANN.

In response to the thousands of objections submitted to ICANN by individual registrants, charities, religious groups, community organizations, and some of the largest and most prestigious organizations in America, PIR asked its customers to “rest assured” that it will not raise prices “unreasonably” and claims that it has “no specific plans” to hike prices.

Conspicuously absent however, is any promise to its customers not to raise prices beyond its current 10% price hike cap. Clearly, PIR is keeping all of its options open, and even in the professed absence of “any specific plans”, it is apparent that PIR likely has general plans to raise prices beyond the current 10% price cap with no limit in sight. This is hardly surprising, for if PIR intended to limit price hikes to the generous currently permitted 10% per year, it would have had no need whatsoever to request the removal of all price caps in the new proposed contract, and accordingly PIR’s claim that it is “simply moving to the standard registry agreement” rings hollow. If PIR was truly committed to keeping prices “reasonably low”, it would have simply agreed to keep the current 10% annual cap on price increases.

Indeed, the so-called “standard registry agreement” is only standard for the new gTLD domain names that were bought and paid for by private interests and which therefore have none of the unique characteristics of a legacy TLD that has been home for organizations throughout the world, long before PIR was awarded the exclusive contract by ICANN.

Despite PIR’s claim that it is “constrained by the competitive market”, PIR is in fact the only source of .org domain names.  If the over 10 million .org registrants wish to continue using their existing domain names they are forced to pay whatever price PIR charges.  If a .org registrant does not pay whatever inflated fee is levied by PIR for the ability to continue using its domain name, the registrant faces the unacceptable prospect of both an expensive and disruptive rebranding and the abandonment of its .org domain name to be taken over by another user with unknown intentions, perhaps even to undermine the mission of the current non-profit registrant.  It is the unique and otherwise unconstrained control over the online homes built on .org domain names that makes price caps on .org domains so crucial in protecting the vibrant and vital community of non-profits that relies upon .org domain names.

Despite PIR claims that current registrants will have “the ability to lock in pricing at the then current rate for 10 years”, the actual proposed contract expressly leaves this up to particular registrars to offer such terms, in their discretion. Similarly, under the proposed contract, existing registrants are not entitled to receive notice of pending increases from PIR, but rather PIR only agrees to give notice of hikes in renewal pricing to registrars. Registrants may thereby be left exposed to dramatic price hikes on their existing domain names after their current term expires.

What has apparently been lost in the contract negotiation is the fact that ICANN is supposed to protect registrants and keep prices low, particularly in legacy TLDs where registrants have relied upon existing price constraints.

Legacy TLDs should not be treated like the new gTLDs nor priced like them nor managed like them.

 

For further reading, see:

“ICA Comment Letter Regarding Proposed Renewal of the .org Registry Agreement” (Submitted to ICANN, April 10, 2019)

The economics of domain name prices” (Domain Name Wire, April 29, 2019)

“How ICANN uses the .Org registry to fund the Internet Society” (Domain Name Wire, April 24, 2019)

“The Spurious Justifications for Eliminating Price Caps on .org and Other Legacy Domains” (CircleID, April 23, 2019)

 

 

30
Apr

ICA Comment Letter Regarding Proposed Renewal of .info Registry Agreement

Those following the ICA, know we have recently submitted a Comment Letter to ICANN opposing their proposal to eliminate price caps on .org domains. We have now submitted a similar letter opposing the same for .info domains. You’ll find our official comment letter here.

ICA Comment on Proposed .info Renewal Agreement

 

26
Apr

Groundswell of Opposition Emerges Against Unlimited .ORG Pricing

It is three days before Comments close on ICANN’s proposal to eliminate price caps on .ORG domain names, and the community of organizations is making their voices heard! At the time of writing this post, there are over 1,867 Comments – all opposing the elimination of price caps. This is a striking number of Comments given that how rare it is for ICANN to receive so many Comments on a particular issue.

But this issue has gotten registrants upset, and organizations who rely upon .ORG, in particular. Hundreds of community groups, charities, churches, scout troops, university students, programmers, small businesses, individual registrants, and others have all expressed their opposition in no uncertain terms and we have yet to see a single Comment in favor of removing price caps.

We are gratified to see that the National Council of Nonprofits, which represents 25,000 organizational members has itself taken a strong stand against ICANN’s proposal (See: https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/comments-org-renewal-18mar19/2019q2/000918.html).

We encourage everyone to read the comments and for ICANN to take these comments extremely seriously.

The .ORG registry is for organizations. And Organizations clearly don’t want to see unlimited price hikes. So, who is in favour of eliminating price caps on .ORG domain names, except the ostensible recipient of potentially higher fees, i.e. PIR, the registry operator itself?

ICANN went off in the wrong direction here, but it is not too late to align itself with registrants instead of its contracted registry operators.  As the U.S. Department of Justice stated, ICANN’s mandate is “to manage TLDs in a manner that safeguards the interests of registrants in obtaining high quality domains at the lowest possible prices” and “ICANN is obligated to manage gTLDs in the interests of registrants “.   ICANN, don’t forget that your legitimacy comes from serving the public interest, not in the interest of your contracted parties.

It is not too late to make your important voice heard. You can use the user-friendly Comment Form which the ICA created for this purpose, here:https://www.internetcommerce.org/comment-org/