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ICANN Approves New Domain Registrar Agreement

July 1, 2013

Late last week, ICANN approved a new registrar agreement after of year of negotiations with the Registrar Stakeholders Group.

The latest changes by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RRA) is touted as consisting of "marked improvements" over the last RAA approved in 2009.

Among the changes in Agreement are the establishment of a registrar point of contact for abuse reports, verification of domain registrant information after a domain is registered and clear guidelines for registrars on reseller compliance. 

With regard to the verification aspect, registrants will need to verify either the email address or phone number used in a registration application within 15 days of the transaction. Registrars will be responsible for initiating verification procedures and have been instructed to suspend a domain registration if the verification is not provided within the timeframe.

The verification process is as follows:

"i. the email address of the Registered Name Holder (and, if different, the Account Holder) by sending an email requiring an affirmative response through a tool-based authentication method such as providing a unique code that must be returned in a manner designated by the Registrar, or

ii. the telephone number of the Registered Name Holder (and, if different, the Account Holder) by either (A) calling or sending an SMS to the Registered Name Holder's telephone number providing a unique code that must be returned in a manner designated by the Registrar, or (B) calling the Registered Name Holder's telephone number and requiring the Registered Name Holder to provide a unique code that was sent to the Registered Name Holder via web, email or postal mail."

The reason for the verification is in part an attempt to curtail illegal activity on the web, although some believe this will have little effect. WHOIS data has been notoriously inaccurate over the years; which has other negative ramifications - including for registrants.

Also to be introduced are improvements to compliance tools and better information accessibility to facilitate ongoing investigations.

"In no small way is this agreement transformational for the domain name industry," said Akram Atallah, President of ICANN's Generic Domains Division, who also thanked the Registrar Stakeholders Group for their efforts.

The Registrar Stakeholders Group consists of representation from law enforcement, industry and consumer groups.  

When the new RAA will actually take effect is unclear. ICANN says it is now working on implementation.

The full text of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement can be viewed here (PDF).

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