ICANN has a new registrar transfer policy for domain names starting this Friday. It’s designed to make it easier for domain owners to switch registrars. Some of us have been waiting a long time for this, as we have domain names being held hostage by certain Australian domain name registrars who won’t be named here.
This was announced back in July with not much reaction from Slashdot and very little discussion anywhere else. Now that the policy is about to be in effect, everyone is spreading panic. Slashdot: new rules make domain hijacking easier. Kottke: ICANN’s Stupidity. Everyone is linking to this article at Netcraft that seems to have started it all.
I think the panic is a bit overblown (and a bit late–where was everyone’s concern in July?). If you read the actual policy it makes a couple of things clear:
- This policy is for registrar transfers, not ownership transfers. It doesn’t make it any easier for a domain to be hijacked, except perhaps by a corrupt registrar.
- The gaining registrar is still required to confirm the transfer: A transfer must not be allowed to proceed if no confirmation is received by the Gaining Registrar.
The big difference here is that the losing registrar has less ways to prevent the transfers. Considering the way some registrars have held domains hostage, this seems like a good thing to me, and I’ll avoid panic until I find a shred of evidence outside that Netcraft article. Ars Technica seems to agree.
Update: Jason Kottke has updated his entry to correct this–thanks for quoting me!
Another Update: Ross at Random Bytes has posted a rebuttal to Netcraft’s article that goes into lots of detail about the history behind this and the benefits of the new policy. Ross is also Director, Innovation and Research at Tucows, who assisted in initiating the new policy.