On ICANN’s new transfer policy

Filed under: — 2:42 pm

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

5 responses to “On ICANN’s new transfer policy”

  1. kottke.org says:

    ICANN’s stupidity and what to do about it Update: It looks like Netcraft was a little overzealous in reporting the dangers this policy change poses and I misunderstood what is at issue here. Michael Moncur explains: 1. This policy is for registrar transfers, not ownership transfers. It doesn’…

  2. Random Bytes says:

    Netcraft, Slashdot Enlist as NetSol Flacks Earlier this morning I caught wind of a Netcraft reporting indicating that ICANN’s new transfer policy was a domain hijacker’s dream. As one of the primary architects of this policy, I thought to myself “Hmmm, I’ve heard this before. Oh yeah, this …

  3. Webjunkies says:

    Domain Transfers (and Hijackings) to Become Easier Jason Kottke (via an Informative shack post) has pointed out that ICANN has brought in a stupid new policy regarding domain transfers. Basically, domain transfer requests will be automatically approved in five days unless they are explicitly denied by …

  4. Your domains at are NOT at risk unless you lock them down Update:Like Jason, my a*s is also a little sore from being fact checked. There is no conspiracy :-) as Ross pointed out in a comment The policy is for registrar transfers NOT domain transfers! See Ross’s blog post, Jason’s…

  5. Toch niet (?) Het bericht dat ik (en meerdere mensen) de afgelopen week plaatste over de regels voor domeinverhuizingen blijkt niet helemaal correct te zijn geweest.

    Michael Moncur legt het op z’n site eens goed uit:

    This policy is for registrar transfers…

(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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