ICANN has issued a guidance notice to registrars and registries in relation to Hurricane Maria, which caused massive damage throughout the Caribbean.
Dear gTLD Registries and Registrars,
As you know, Hurricane Maria caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean and surrounding areas. We have also heard from community members that ongoing issues with electric power grids and the telecommunications infrastructure are affecting the ability of some registrants to renew their domain names.
In order to assist registrars and registries in providing continuity of service to affected customers, ICANN hereby approves Hurricane Maria and other similar natural disasters as an extenuating circumstance under RAA section 126.96.36.199.
“188.8.131.52 Extenuating circumstances are defined as: UDRP action, valid court order, failure of a Registrar’s renewal process (which does not include failure of a registrant to respond), the domain name is used by a nameserver that provides DNS service to third-parties (additional time may be required to migrate the records managed by the nameserver), the registrant is subject to bankruptcy proceedings, payment dispute (where a registrant claims to have paid for a renewal, or a discrepancy in the amount paid), billing dispute (where a registrant disputes the amount on a bill), domain name subject to litigation in a court of competent jurisdiction, or other circumstance as approved specifically by ICANN.”
Based on this approval, registrars will be permitted to temporarily forebear from canceling domain registrations that were unable to be renewed as a result of the natural disaster.
This and other devastating events highlight the potential need for a policy initiative to protect registrants when they are unable to renew their domains as a result of natural disasters or other extraordinary circumstances.
In the interim, we encourage you to take these circumstances into consideration when reviewing renewal delinquencies from affected areas.
Thank you for your attention. Please let me know if you have any questions, or if there is anything else ICANN might be able to do to assist you in providing continuity of service to customers affected by Hurricane Maria or other natural disasters.
President, Global Domains Division
This isn’t the first time that this has happened, with a previous incident in Asia triggering action from both registrars and registries to give domain name registrants impacted by the natural disaster breathing space.
Several people within the broader ICANN community had raised the issue related to Caribbean registrants in the last couple of weeks. ICANN giving registrars and registries a “green light” means that there shouldn’t be any issues with contractual compliance should a registrar or registry give people extra leeway.