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    New gTLDs Shambles at the .Pro Registry
    posted by michael on Sunday March 20 2005, @09:42AM

    Richard_Henderson writes "Registration of .Pro domains has descended into shambles as the Registry responsible for their administration has allowed a flood of domain registrations which appear to be in breach of the strict rules restricting who can register a .pro domain and the certified credentials required before any such domain can work.



    The .Pro TLD was set up to provide a credentialed area of the namespace where verified professionals could establish their web-presence and benefit from profession-related DNS functions. In particular, provision was intended for professionals in the legal, medical, and accounting workplace. This designation of .pro for credentialed professionals is explicitly set out in the ICANN-Registry Agreement which constitutes the contractual basis for the operation of the registry.

    Appendix L of ICANN's Agreement with RegistryPro, allowing them to operate the .pro registry, states:

    "Registered Names are restricted to persons and entities that are credentialed by appropriate entities (such as through governmental bodies and professional organizations) to provide professional services within a stated geographic region (a “Licensing Jurisdiction”). "

    By the terms of the ICANN Agreement, the .pro registry undertakes to verify the credentials of these registrants:

    "Registrants of Registered Names in the .pro TLD will be required to certify that they meet the qualifications set forth in this Appendix L. Qualifications for registration of Registered Names will be verified and periodically re-verified, and will be signified by digital credentials recorded in the registry database. "

    Specifically Section 7.2.1 states that "at the time of an initial registration of a Registered Name (i.e. a domain name), the registrant will be required to provide to the sponsoring registrar identity and contact information about the registrant, data and supporting evidence about the registrant’s qualifications to register, and other data required for issuance of a digital certificate. "

    Furthermore, the Agreement allows for these crdentials to be challenged, under the Qualification Challenge Policy:

    "Qualifications for both Registered Names and Standard Defensive Registrations, however, will be subject to challenge under the Qualification Challenge Policy described in Appendix M. "

    What has emerged is that, in the past month, a thousand or possibly many more generic words have been registered and activated through RegistryPro - names like f**k.pro and c**t.pro which appear to have no relevance to any of the recognised professional entities entitled to legitimise a .pro registration. This spate of registrations appears to have been carried out by domain speculators and on the face of it DomainPro has failed to carry out its obligation to check and verify each application before activating the domains.

    See here for examples of this flood of recent registrations:
    http://gnso.icann.org/mailing-lists/archives/ga/ms g02433.html

    The Registrars themselves (in most of these cases it involves the ICANN-accredited EnCirca registrar) are not obliged to carry out the verification process themselves. Section 8.1 of Appendix L states that the verification may be carried out by the registrar or the registry.

    However, the registry (RegistryPro) have a specific responsibility *NOT* to activate any registered domain - " it will not resolve in the DNS until such time as the Verification Process has been successfully completed and the eligibility for registration confirmed. "

    RegistryPro appear to have failed to apply this rule. As a result, the integrity and reputation of the .pro TLD has been seriously damaged, along with the integrity of the Registry's processes, which were supposed to be upheld both for contractual reasons and as part of ICANN's "Proof of Concept" approach to launching New TLDs. The Agreement talks about the need for digital certificates to support registrations "to enhance the security and trust of .pro domains" and so that "consumers can easily establish trust" when accessing these domains. RegistryPro seem to have failed in this area of 'trust' by activating so many uncertified domains.

    In Section 2 of Appendix L it states:

    "All Registered Names must meet the requirements in the Registry Agreement and its appendices " and furthermore that "The Registry Operator shall implement technical measures reasonably calculated to enforce the requirements. "

    It would appear that the "technical measures" to prevent this surge of unverified applications were either ineffective or were not in place (in which case RegistryPro has failed in its contractual obligations to protect the integrity of the namespace).

    As a safeguard, the ICANN-Registry Agreement requires the creation of an Advisory Board (Appendix L Section 6) and "if the Advisory Board finds that the Registry Operator's management is taking actions that will violate the restrictions of the .pro TLD or its PS-SLDs, the Advisory Board may send written notice of its recommendation regarding such action to the Registry Operator's Board of Directors and to ICANN. " (Appendix L Section 6.1.2.7)

    It is to be hoped that, in the present debacle, the Advisory Board will intervene and liaise with ICANN over what appears to be a "violation of the restrictions" on .pro registrations.

    The action open to ICANN and RegistryPro includes the right to terminate these uncertified registrations on the grounds that they violate the conditions for registration:

    "violation of any of the provisions described ...shall be grounds for termination of the registration, without any refund of fees to the registrant. " (Appendix L Section 7.1.7)

    Furthermore (and this provides the likely resolution of this problem): "Any domain that has been registered for 60 days without successful confirmation of such eligibility may be deleted by the Registry Operator. There shall be no refund of fees paid for such deleted names."

    Having read the EnCirca website, and tried to understand why so many people have rushed into registrations in the past month, I have to say that I personally find the wording of EnCirca's 'new approach' ambiguous, and it led me to understand that I could legitimately proceed to pay them for a registration which would be accepted (however I did not register any names!).

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that on the basis of the ICANN Agreement with the Registry, it is the Registry themselves who have failed to put in place technical measures to prevent this rush of uncertified registrations, and it most certainly seems to be the Registry that has been responsible for activating a thousand of more registrations *PRIOR* to full verifiaction, and in breach of their Agreement with ICANN.

    Thousands of domain names like fu*k.pro and c*nt.pro are active and resolving. This should not be happening until there are digital certificates to authorise the registrations. Where are these digital certificates? I do not believe that they exist. So why has RegisterPro activated the domains.

    I call on ICANN and RegistryPro to immediately de-activate all recent domain names which lack digital certification, and I advise that after a 60-day period these registrations should then be cancelled.

    I also call on ICANN to censure RegistryPro for its failure to adhere to its contractual obligations.

    I also call into question the actions of the ICANN-accredited Registrar EnCirca, who not only appeared (to me) to encourage unwitting consumers to engage in a "landrush" of .pro names, but also appear to have registered .pro names themselves with the function of re-directing traffic to their own Registrar website. I draw attention, for example, to:

    http://www.credit.pro
    http://www.dating.pro
    http://www.diet.pro
    (there may be others) ?

    EnCirca appear to be claiming that they did not mislead registrants into inappropriate registration of .pro domain names, but surely their own registration of these domains, for themselves, and resolving to their own nameservers to forward traffic, is a demonstration of an abuse or misunderstanding of the .pro regulations by EnCirca themselves?

    Surely this use of .pro contravenes the intentions and purpose of the .pro sTLD? What possible case can there be for .pro registrations for credit, dating, and diet and their use as traffic-grabbers to route people to the EnCirca Homepage?

    Has RegistryPro checked to see if EnCirca has registered these names with verified professional credentials? Does RegistryPro possess digital certifiactes for these registrations? If not, why are the domains active?

    My conclusion is that both at Registry and at Registrar level the process has been neglected, and the vital trust and professionalism that is meant to be built into the .pro registry has been jeopardised as a result.

    These thousand or possibly several thousand domain names should never have been registered (Appendix L Section 10 makes that clear) - the verification and certification is supposed to take place "before the Registry Operator will process domain name applications" (this actually somewhat contradicts other suggestions in the same Appendix which imply that the certification need not be complete before the registration takes place, though it must be complete prior to activation... an example, perhaps, of carelessly constructed Agreements on ICANN's part).

    Finally, one other question to Tim Cole and RegistryPro. Apart from the fact that these domain names should not have been activated until verifiaction was complete, what was RegistryPro thinking of in accepting and activating so many (thousands?) of spurious .pro names? During the four or five weeks when, day after day, these registrations were pouring in and being activated, did RegistryPro meet its contractual obligation to notify ICANN of the problem (although, in truth, they were part of the problem because they were activating the domains themselves). Specifically, Appendix L Section 10.1.4 states:

    "If it comes to the Registry Operator's attention that an Authorized Registrar is not complying with the restrictions and policies described in this Appendix, the Registry Operator will send prompt electronic and written notice to the Authorized Registrar, with a copy by the same method to ICANN, describing the restrictions and policies being violated. The ensuing procedure concerning the Authorized Registrar's eligibility to continue to sponsor Registered Names (including suspension and de-accreditation) in the .pro registry is governed by the RRA (Appendix F) and the Registrar Accreditation Agreement."

    On what date did RegistryPro send such notice to ICANN, if it did at all. How many domains had they registered by then? How many domains had they activated (in breach of their Agreement) by then? Why were domains like carrental.pro and flight.pro still being registered on March 18th, after the exchange of correspondence between Tim Cole and the registrar involved?

    Of course, RegistryPro could hardly complain about abuse of process when their 'activations' were in breach of process as well. In many cases, you need to "look to the money". Was there any complicity in the 'oversight' that seems to have occurred both at Registry and Registrar level?

    Are Registrars or Registries just allowed to flout their contracts at will? What sanctions is ICANN prepared to take to defend the integrity of its processes and, more importantly, to defend the consumers for whom the "Domain Supply Industry" is supposed to exist in the first place?

    Yrs,

    Richard Henderson
    http://www.atlarge.org"

     
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      Related Links  
    · ICANN
    · http://gnso.icann.org/mailing- lists/archives/ga/ms g02433.html
    · http://www.credit.pro
    · http://www.dating.pro
    · http://www.diet.pro
    · http://www.atlarge.org
    · Richard_Henderson
    · More New gTLDs stories
    · Also by michael
     
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    Shambles at the .Pro Registry | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 12 comments | Search Discussion
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    EnCirca responds
    by EnCirca on Sunday March 20 2005, @04:38PM (#14687)
    User #4093 Info
    We cannot respond to the multiple misstatements, mischaracterizations and errors put forth by Mr. Henderson as to the facts surrounding Encirca's ProForwarding program. We only note that:

    1. All EnCirca .pro registrations have verified credentials prior to the activation of their domain name

    2. All registrations are in conformity with the RegistryPro/ICANN contract (http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/pro/).

    We direct you to our response to ICANN on ICANN's website:(http://www.icann.org/correspondence/barre tt-to-cole-16mar05.pdf)

    We want to emphasize that there are NO provisions in the Registry Agreement regarding use - Jones Day can register jonesday.law.pro and use it to sell ice cream. They may also register icecream.pro and use it to sell..ice cream. Encirca is the only registrar to voluntarily adopted a policy that prohibits misrepresentation of licensed credentials

    "Licensee may not, in connection with use of the Domain Name, explicitly or implicitly misrepresent professional credentials, including but not limited to levels of training, certification, education, licensing or membership in a professional organization."

    (from http://www.encirca.biz/html/proforwarding.shtml)

    Sincerely

    Thomas Barrett
    President
    EnCirca, Inc

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Registry-Registrar Agreement and policy change
    by Richard_Henderson on Monday March 21 2005, @03:23AM (#14691)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/
    “The Registrar must require applicants for registration of Registered Names to provide evidence of qualification for a domain name in the .pro TLD.”

    “The Registrar must verify evidence of such qualification pursuant to the policies of the Registry Operator.”

    “The Registrar must also provide digital certificates and other digital security services associated with each Registered Name through a commercial certificate authority approved by Registry Operator ("CCA").”

    Registry-Registrar Agreement. Appendix F. Exhibit E. Section IV.

    Can I ask which commercial certificate authority (approved by RegistryPro) did EnCirca use to provide digital certificates for their registrants (such as f**k.pro and c**t.pro)?

    Also, did EnCirca check with ICANN at any stage when they said:

    “The .pro domain currently supports only lawyers (law.pro, bar.pro and jur.pro), accountants (cpa.pro, aca.pro), doctors (med.pro) and engineers (eng.pro) from the U.S., Canada, UK and Germany. EnCirca now can provide a .pro domain to licensed professionals worldwide in other categories previously not supported… EnCirca now supports registrants from all licensed professions anywhere in the world. As a result, applicants no longer need to wait until their profession or country is supported by the registry to secure desirable .pro domains names for their industry.”

    “The issues with .pro, until now, were that the cost was often prohibitive and the requirement to validate the registration with credentials of being a licensed professional was restraining,” said Tom Barrett, president of EnCirca. “The pace of supporting new professions and countries has been too slow to satisfy demand. Now, EnCirca is resolving the cost and registration obstacles, enabling all licensed professions -- no matter where they reside -- to quickly and easily acquire a memorable .pro identity and effectively compete online.”

    “These professional groups include: architects, educators, public relations professionals, realtors”. Small businesses too may apply, said Thomas Barrett.

    http://express-press-release.com/11/EnCirca.pro%20 Web%20Service%20Creates%20New%20Online%20Marketing %20Opportunities%20For%20All%20Licensed%20Professi onals%20and%20Small%20Businesses.php

    Is this ICANN policy or has EnCirca decided on this policy for themselves? And precisely what certification supports all the domain speculators who have registered hundreds or thousands of .pro names? As this certification is supposed to be in the possession of RegistryPro before any domain is activated, perhaps RegistryPro could answer that question too?

    Yrs,
    Richard Henderson
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Zero proof required to get your .Pro with EnCirca?
    by Richard_Henderson on Monday March 21 2005, @04:42PM (#14705)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/
    I've received a description of how a .pro domain was gained this month through EnCirca. He mails me as follows:

    "I would ask for some discretion. I would prefer that you’d not list my name in conjunction with this.

    Straight up, I basically registered four .pros.

    There was absolutely no verification performed by Encirca as part of the process. It was simply sign up, pay $49, and 'viola'. "

    My contact had been drawn to the EnCirca system by an article here:
    http://www.webhostdir.com/news/articles/shownews.a sp?id=11643
    which then led to here:
    http://www.encirca.biz/html/proforwarding.shtml
    which set out how they would get "your domain":

    "How EnCirca's ProForwarding Service Works

    Your domain is registered in the name of EnCirca's ProForwarding Service, so that we can submit and maintain the professional credentials required for .pro domain names.

    You retain the FULL BENEFITS of domain registration. As Admin, Technical and Billing Contact: You can sell, renew or cancel your domain; set-up the nameservers for your domain; and resolve disputes involving your domain.

    Domains maintained by EnCirca's ProForwarding service may be transferred in a private sale to a third party at any time. Owner transfer is accomplished via EnCirca's free Account Move utility

    EnCirca reserves the right to cancel any registration suspected of trademark infringement,spamming, or other illegal activity. To clarify prohibited use, we have amended the ProForwarding terms as follows:

    Licensee may not, in connection with use of the Domain Name, explicitly or implicitly misrepresent professional credentials, including but not limited to levels of training, certification, education, licensing or membership in a professional organization."

    * * * * * *

    This seems to place the responsibility on the applicant, effectively saying: it's your own fault if you're not who you claim to be. This is a million light years away from the requirement of the ICANN Registry Agreement that claims should undergo a process of scrutiny to verify them.

    In the case of my correspondent, not a single enquiry was made, even of what kind of professional (if any) he was before the name was registered and activated.

    I suggest (but leave ICANN to decide) that this was in clear contravention of the ICANN Agreement and specifically Appendix L.

    Yrs,

    Richard Henderson

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
    Thomas Barrett, Square this Circle...
    by Richard_Henderson on Monday March 21 2005, @05:18PM (#14706)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/
    Thomas Barrett on this page:
    "All EnCirca .pro registrations have verified credentials prior to the activation of their domain name"

    EnCirca Registrant:
    "There was absolutely no verification performed by Encirca as part of the process. It was simply sign up, pay $49, and 'viola'."

    Excuse me Thomas, but how do you square that circle. The registrant's .pro domain was registered and activated. His credentials were not checked at all.
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    RegistryPro Announcement defies ICANN's intentions
    by Richard_Henderson on Wednesday March 23 2005, @03:26PM (#14717)
    User #3269 Info | http://www.atlarge.org/
    As I expected, the Registry are laying down the challenge to ICANN, and defying them to stop them from 'evolving' .Pro into what is effectively a new and opened up gTLD:

    http://www.registrypro.pro/forum/

    "It has come to the attention of RegistryPro that some .pro name holders are licensing their domain names to parties who may not themselves qualify for a .pro domain name."

    "Once a .pro domain is appropriately purchased, RegistryPro does not assume control over the use of that name. This includes the secondary market and licensing programs referenced above."

    What RegistryPro is saying in this message is that they know perfectly well that EnCirca is registering thousands of names in EnCirca's own name, then selling ownership of these domains to the general public without any checking of individuals' credentials whatsoever (although the intention of setting up the .Pro Registry was that it should only be open to people whose credentials had been rigorously checked)...

    And then RegistryPro appears to be saying that once they've got their share of the money, they will allow this opening up of .Pro to the general public to continue. They seem to be saying that, without consultation with ICANN, they are going to take the money, and preside over the dismantling of the intent and purposes of the .Pro Agreement as set out by ICANN.

    To this extent, RegistryPro and EnCirca appear to be in complicity. At the very least, you would think that the .Pro Registry would turn to ICANN and ask for their view on this effective re-writing of .Pro.

    Whatever words RegistryPro uses, they *know* that they are opening up a registry that was supposed to be credentialled and restricted.

    ICANN may have a different view on whether this respects the Agreement and Understanding they made with RegistryPro, not to mention the time and money invested by consumers who invested in .Pro because of the way it was defined.

    Were other Registrars consulted by RegistryPro?

    What RegistryPro and EnCirca appear to be trying to do - including this RegistryPro Forum just launched today... "It has come to our attention..." when they know perfectly well what has been going on in the past month... is that they are trying to push forward to a new "status quo" regardless of ICANN's position and the purposes of ICANN's Agreement. ICANN has been used and they are trying to railroad it to their own 'new reality'.

    De facto - if not on a technical detail - .Pro is being turned into an open gTLD.

    Yrs,

    Richard Henderson
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
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