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[comments-whois] WHOIS Task Force report

With respect to the report which states:

>> C. Input received both from the Implementation Committee and in public
>> comments indicates a strong desire in parts of the community to extend
>> the 15 day period currently specified in section of the RAA.

>> Communication received from ICANN's General Counsel indicates that the
>> "current contractual structure of requiring the registrar to retain the
>> right to cancel if the customer fails to respond in 15 days, but not
>> requiring the registrar to exercise this right is intended to give the
>> registrar the flexibility to use good judgment to determine what action
>> should be taken upon a customer's failure to respond to an inquiry about
>> a Whois inaccuracy." This interpretation of the contractual language
>> seems to address the concerns raised.

The General Counsel's interpretation fails to recognize the unreasonable restrictions that the registrars themselves impose upon the registrant.  Registrants are all too commonly trapped by a clause that reads, "You agree that your failure to respond within ten (10) calendar days to inquiries by [insert registrar name] concerning the accuracy of contact details associated with your registration shall constitute a material breach of this Agreement and will be sufficient basis for cancellation of your domain name registration."   Mind you, 10 days is typically the maximum amount of time the registrant is allowed.  Indeed, GoDaddy requires it customers to respond within a mere five (5) days.

Due diligence would have shown that very few registrars give their registrants the opportunity to take a standard 2 week vacation without risking the loss of their domain names.  The Task Force's failure to research and address this issue raises clear suspicions as to the adequacy of the proposed process and its ability to protect the registrants' interests.

Similarly, there is NOTHING in the proposed report to protect registrants should they not receive the e-mail notice sent to them.  What if the e-mail is not delivered for technical reasons?  What if the receiving party inadvertently overlooks the e-mail amidst the countless other e-mails in the person's inbox?   In light of the fact that many registrars flood their customers with excess marketing, redundant renewal notices, and other nonsense, it should not be surprising if such a notice were overlooked.

It should be an absolute REQUIREMENT that an attempt by certified mail (or whatever may be comparable outside the U.S.) be made before any change is contemplated to a registrant's domain.  Obviously, it costs a few dollars for a certified letter, and certainly, if the registrar prefers, attempts by e-mail can be made first to avoid the added cost, and in the majority of instances, the registrant will respond to the e-mail without further need for or expense of certified letter.  But, as the price to redeem a deleted domain name during the redemption grace period is a whopping $85 + whatever amount the registrar chooses to add on top of that (a figure not mentioned or considered in the Task Force's report), not to mention the potential substantial harm and losses incurred by the domain name holder when his/her domain is taken out of service, the cost of a certified letter is mere pennies.

In short, the report appears to be heavily oriented towards the interests of Intellectual Property holders with little if any regard to the needs of the registrants.  How can one possibly consider one party without considering the other?  Pray tell, on what authority does the Task Force dismiss the concerns of the registrants?

In short, the Task Force's report does not adequately protect the interests and concerns of legitimate domain name holders.

Alice Breck
Public citizen and domain name holder

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