It was inevitable that ICANN would want to review the Registrar Accreditation Agreement following on the collapse of RegisterFly.
At both the Lisbon and San Juan ICANN meetings the registrar agreement was a hot topic.
So what is going on exactly?
Paul Twomey’s announcement yesterday covers most of the salient points:
The need for this review is clear. The current RAA is more than six years old. We’ve seen the number of accredited registrars grow to more than 900. And we’ve seen the incredible difficulties that can be unleashed with the collapse of a Registrar.
The Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) deals with the relationship between ICANN and the registrars.
Some of the topics that are up for discussion / review are obviously motivated by RegisterFly’s “backdoor” accreditation and the subsequent fallout when it collapsed:
* Incorporating provisions to govern the terms under which a registrar can be sold and continue to retain its ICANN accreditation.
* Including additional contract enforcement tools offering more options than the current one option – terminating accreditation.
* Addressing the responsibilities of a parent owner/manager when one or more of a “family” of registrars fails to comply with ICANN requirements.
* Requiring registrars to escrow contact information for customers who register domain names using Whois privacy and Whois proxy services.
* Augmenting the responsibilities placed on registrars with regard to their relationships with resellers.
* Requiring operator skills training and testing for all ICANN-accredited Registrars.
A couple of these points may not need further explanation, but others definitely warrant it.
The concept of contact information escrow is very important to registrants, as the collapse of RegisterFly led to many registrants (domain owners) being in the awkward position of not being able to prove ownership of their domains.
I’m not sure which areas of the reseller – registrar relationship ICANN is interested in, but if you consider how much the market has changed in the last 6 years it’s pretty obvious that some mention of resellers is necessary.
More information on the consultation is available on the ICANN site