AlpNames has been sent a notice of termination by ICANN. Unlike many termination notices that specify a future date the one they were sent is has immediate effect.
As reported in multiple fora over the last few days AlpNames had gone offline, and at time of writing still is. They’ve also become unresponsive. It’s on the basis of this that ICANN decided to terminate their contract straight away.
What this means is that AlpNames has lost their “license” to sell domains from ICANN. The existing domains will have to be moved to another registrar, though it’s unclear who will takeover the domain portfolio. The registrar’s back office operations is with LogicBoxes, so it’s fairly safe to assume that the data has been escrowed and will be available to the new registrar.
So what happened?
The Gibraltar based registrar was sent multiple notices by ICANN since the beginning of March, but did not respond. Also they owe ICANN fees.
As a registrar their track record with abuse was far from stellar. Spamhaus has been listing them as one of the worst registrars for DNS abuse on the planet for a long time. ICANN’s report on “competition, consumer trust and consumer choice” calls out AlpNames:
Alpnames Ltd., based in Gibraltar, was associated with a high volume of abuse from the .science and .top domain names. The Study notes that this registrar used price promotions that offered domain name registrations for USD $1 or sometimes even free. Moreover, Alpnames permitted registrants to randomly generate and register 2,000 domain names in 27 new gTLDs in a single registration process. Registering domain names in bulk using domain generation algorithms are commonly associated with cybercrime. However, there is currently no contractual prohibition or safeguard against the bulk registration of domains.
Historically AlpNames was linked to Famous Four Media, which changed ownership in the last few months.
AlpNames has about 700 thousand names in new gTLDs. I’m not sure how big they were in legacy gTLDs or if there were any ccTLD domains under management.