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Update: My participation rights have now been eliminated at ICANN working groups

Just to followup on the earlier blog post of today, I received the following email from Keith Drazek (GNSO Council Chair),

Dear Mr. Kirikos,

Receipt of your letter is acknowledged.

We note and regret that you have elected to not accept and agree to abide by ICANN’s Expected Standards of Behavior (ESOB).

As such, per the notice provided in the Council Leadership Team’s letter of 29 March, you will be placed in observer status in the RPM PDP WG and any other GNSO-related forum until such time we receive the necessary communication confirming acceptance of the ESOB, or until such time the ICANN Ombuds rules that you may return to member status following any appeal.

Sincerely,

Keith Drazek
GNSO Chair (on behalf of the GNSO Council Leadership Team)

So, unless I “bend the knee” and “swear an oath of fealty” (or unless the ICANN Ombudsman says I can return), I’m forever banished. Is that reasonable and proportionate?

And, this affects participation for all working groups (not just the RPM PDP), even though there’s no issue in the IGO PDP!

 

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ICANN Threatens to Restrict Participation Rights of critic George Kirikos

ICANN, in an affront to free speech and due process, has threatened to restrict my participation on important domain name policy issues, and I think it’s crucial that these topics be brought before the public for debate. Continue reading “ICANN Threatens to Restrict Participation Rights of critic George Kirikos”

Banxa announces AUD $3 million sale of crypto-related domain names, with more to come

Publicly-listed Banxa has announced the sale of AUD $3 million worth of crypto-related domain names to Independent Reserve (an Australian crypto exchange). 1 $AUD is worth approximately USD $0.67 at the time of this post.

Continue reading “Banxa announces AUD $3 million sale of crypto-related domain names, with more to come”

ICANN75 Session of the Transfer Policy Working Group is Friday at 10:30PM Eastern Time

The ICANN75 session of the ICANN Transfer Policy Review PDP Working Group will be taking place in less than 12 hours from this blog post, at 10:30 PM Eastern Time on Friday, September 16, 2022. [10:30 MYT (UTC+8), 17 September 2022]

Remote participation is available via Zoom (you’ll need to create an ICANN account to access the links to the Zoom room, as per the above session link).

As I’ve noted in my lengthy comment submission, there are very serious problems with the working group’s recommendations.

Furthermore, that working group’s review of the public comments is superficial at best. As an example, watch the Zoom recording of this past Tuesday’s working group call. (unfortunately, the written transcript of the call isn’t posted yet on the GNSO’s calendar page).

Did the working group even mention, in discussions of removal of the Losing FOA, my citing of the SSAC report, from page 39 of my comment submission, to:

“Treat transfer attempts as a security event (check and re-check).”

Nope! Apparently such an important point was not worth mentioning on their call! It demonstrates the importance of the Losing FOA.

There’s a certain arrogance in the working group, as if they know better than the public. e.g. Jim Galvin of Afilias (a member of the SSAC) claimed he was “not especially persuaded by most of these comments” and that he didn’t believe “that there’s new information here” (see the “rough transcript” produced by Zoom at around 44:22 into the call, or listen to the actual call; the rough transcript isn’t perfect).

Galvin claimed that he “could sit here and go through, and I think I would have a specific response to each one of these comments” (at around 44:53 into the call). I openly challenge him to do so!

I even reached out to him, to have a telephone call, to go through my concerns to see what his “response” would be. I’ve not heard back, yet.

At 1 hour and 10 minutes into the call, Galvin asserts that “there really is no diference between the FOA and the notification.” He then goes on to claim “the notification has the same properties. It neither adds nor removes them.”

This is demonstrably false!

If I validly create a TAC (transfer authorization code), to transfer a valuable domain name from Tucows to GoDaddy (as an example), and provide that TAC to a buyer or to an escrow company, but then see (via the Losing FOA) that the transfer is actually going to Alibaba or a Russian registrar, I’d be able to NACK (cancel) the transfer, as it’s not going to the correct destination.

That involved no compromise of the registrar’s control panel, but involved misuse of the TAC after it was properly generated, but before it was properly used at the correct gaining registrar).

This is a perfect demonstration that their analysis is completely wrong. The removal of the Losing FOA would have demonstrably made one worse off.

Galvin claims that “all bets are off” if an attacker gains access to a registrar’s control panel (because the attacker can change registrant contact details, so the registrant wouldn’t be able to receive the Losing FOA). Again, his analysis is wrong. Perhaps at a poorly-designed registrar, his analysis might be fine. But, a properly-designed security-conscious registrar wouldn’t immediately make those critical changes. They would seek verification first! I documented in my lengthy submission that I carefully separate out the registrar control panel details and contacts, so that they’re independent of the domain name contacts.

Later on that call, at around 1 hour and 14 minutes, Jim Galvin demonstrates to us all that he didn’t actually do his homework and understand the working group’s report, as he was unaware that the 5 day window after the gaining registrar submits the transfer was being eliminated. How embarrassing for him, and embarrassing for SSAC. He says “maybe I’m missing something  here” — yes, Galvin and others are missing a lot!

In conclusion, it’s clear that these working group members are not doing a proper review of the public comments. They have tunnel vision, and are working from the starting point that they “know better” than the public who submitted serious concerns about their dangerous proposals. If you share these concerns and have time on Friday night (North American time) to attend the ICANN75 session remotely, please do so.

 

Domain Owners Might Want To Enable Lockdown Mode

Apple recently released iOS 16 for the iPhone, which introduced a new security setting called “Lockdown Mode” (this feature will also be coming soon for the iPad and macOS). It increases the security of your device, to defend against some “extreme” attacks.

Owners of valuable domain names (or other digital assets like crypto/NFTs), CEOs, celebrities, journalists, and other “high value targets” might want to enable Lockdown Mode for extra protection.

Stanley Pace wins Reverse Domain Name Hijacking Decision in Court, Overturning UDRP

Stanley Pace has won a reverse domain name hijacking victory in court, overturning a wrongly-decided UDRP decision at WIPO in the celluvation.com dispute.

You can read the entire court decision here.

In summary:

The Court herby DECLARES and ORDERS:

1. Pace’s use of the celluvation.com domain does not violate the ACPA.
2. Pace’s use of the celluvation.com domain does not violate the Lanham Act.
3. Pace has established a claim for reverse domain name hijacking.
4. Defendant’s counterclaims against Plaintiff are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE for willful and inexcusable failure to prosecute and failure to comply with court orders pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b).
5. Pace’s request for fees is DENIED.
6. The WIPO arbitration panel decision is OVERTURNED, and the domain name
registrar for celluvation.com is ORDERED to lift the hold on the domain name and return the domain to Pace.
7. Judgment shall be entered in favor of Plaintiff

Will WIPO add this decision to its list of UDRP-related court cases? You might recall that WIPO retaliated against my company and removed the PUPA.com court case decision from their list (after I voted against Brian Beckham as co-chair of the RPM PDP working group at ICANN).

Newfold Digital Signs Agreement to Acquire MarkMonitor from Clarivate for $302.5 million

Newfold Digital, the company that owns registrars like Network Solutions and Web.com, issued a press release that they’re buying MarkMonitor from Clarivate for $302.5 million.

This was already reported multiple times on the Domaining.com RSS aggregator by other sites.

Yet, by being the last to report it, this admittedly parasitic blog post, which adds no value whatsoever, will now appear HIGHER on Domaining.com than the site that first broke the news (Elliot Silver of DomainInvesting.com), and thus generate clicks! So, go visit Elliot’s site, who deserves the traffic and eyeballs, and ponder why others are getting away repeatedly with their parasitic practices.

I’ve mentioned these parasitic practices repeatedly, e.g. in my blog posts here and here. I’ve tweeted about it repeatedly too, e.g.

Perhaps Domaining.com needs to add a way to downvote or even hide “duplicative” articles that are parasitic. E.g. on Hacker News, not every story gets on the homepage, and they’re not simply listed in reverse chronological order.

In conclusion, go read Elliot’s excellent article that broke the news before anyone else did. He has my full respect, as I know he’s always very careful to cite prior work from myself, Jamie Zoch and others producing original content. And he doesn’t try to “gain eyeballs” through parasitic practices.

 

Arizona court orders that ETH.LINK domain name be transferred back to True Names

An Arizona court has ordered that the ETH.LINK domain name be transferred back to True Names. You can read the entire order here.

This was first reported on Hacker News last night, but none of the usual suspects blogged about it yet. Given I’m “on strike” for reporting on SEC Filings findings for the rest of the year, due to too many parasitic bloggers, I figured I’d write about something different. Let’s see how many parasitic bloggers write about this without citing the original Hacker News post or this blog post…especially those who don’t typically blog on the weekends….

Obviously change of ownership and domain transfers in general are matters of critical importance, yet how many people reading this bothered to submit comments to ICANN during their recent comment period? You can read my company’s 60 page submission in a prior blog post. If you were upset about how the registrars handled the ETH.LINK expiration and transfer to a 3rd party, perhaps you should pay more attention to the policies which enable that behaviour. When a registrar can earn more from the expiry of a domain name, rather than its renewal, that creates an enormous conflict of interest. The interests of registrants are routinely ignored at ICANN, because of your apathy.

Meditations on Domain Name Transfers: Final Call for Comments To ICANN

Today I submitted comments on behalf of my company (Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.) to ICANN regarding proposed changes to domain name transfer policy. You can read those comments in this PDF, or at ICANN’s public comment forum along with those of others such as the Internet Commerce Association. If you’d like to submit your own comments, the deadline is Tuesday August 16, 2022 at 23:59 UTC.

I’ve written multiple blog posts in the past few weeks, warning about the negative ramifications should their recommendations be adopted. See here, here, here, here and here for those past articles on the topic.

The comment submission reiterates and expands on those past articles. I also took a deep dive into each of the recommendations. It was a considerable effort (at least 40 hours, if not more) in a compressed time frame. It was truly stressful given the deadline would not be extended to mid-September (or beyond) as requested, to be a more reasonable schedule for the amount of work involved. As I note on page 5 of the submission, I could have used more time to reorganize, restructure and condense the material (which amounts to 60 pages!). Consider this a “draft” that wasn’t intended for publication, but is as good as it’s going to get in the time that was provided.

As I note in the conclusion, the most important section is Section E (generate a transaction ID at the gaining registrar, to input at the losing registrar; this way, we can eliminate the TAC). Also, retaining the “Losing FOA” (Section F), at least on an opt-in basis, to preserve the ability to ACK/NACK a pending transfer is critical. Those are the two big counterproposals, although lots of other stuff was important and needed to be said.

The unbalanced nature of the working group composition (registrars dominating) should concern everyone, as registrants’ interests are not being protected.

XPRIZE-style Competition To Improve Domain Name Transfer Security

I’ve written extensively in the past couple of weeks regarding the ICANN transfer policy review’s initial report.   You can read these past articles here, here, here and here. There has also been discussion at the NamePros forum. ICANN has been obstinate in their refusal to extend the comments deadline to mid-September (or beyond) as requested (comments are due August 16, 2022, less than a week from now). [Please do keep trying to get it extended, though! Many folks I’ve talked to are only now beginning to understand the negative ramifications of the report, and need more time to compose a thoughtful response.]

Domain name security, including security of the transfer process, is important enough that it calls for fresh ideas. I propose that ICANN issue a widely publicized and open “Call For Papers” or a competition of some sort, like the “XPRIZE” but for domain name transfer and security procedures. This would encourage academics, security researchers, security practitioners, “white hats” and others to take a deeper dive into the domain name transfer system. They would be encouraged and invited to come up with new ideas that would improve security of hundreds of millions of domain names, which are at the foundation of the multi-trillion dollar online economy.

ICANN agreed to receive a controversial $20 million from Verisign upon renewal of the dot-com contract. It was intended to improve security.

I suggest that a portion of it, perhaps $250,000 to $500,000, be used to fund the total prizes and/or honoraria for an XPRIZE-style competition or call for papers. This is a small fraction of the $20 million.

Such funding would provide an economic incentive to draw new ideas and new eyeballs into the ICANN ecosystem, particularly from academia, rather than from “the usual suspects” who’ve dominated ICANN for the past 2 decades. Transfer security, and overall domain name security, is too important an issue to leave to those ‘usual suspects’.

[To make it clear that I personally would not financially benefit from such a competition, folks should be able to have any prizes/honoraria be directed to charities, rather than to themselves, as I would do to eliminate any conflicts of interest that might be seen from making this proposal.]

Making Domain Name Transfers More Secure

As previously discussed, there’s an initial report published by an ICANN working group that is making various recommendations regarding domain name transfers. One of the recommendations would eliminate the important “NACK” safeguard, which allows a registrant the ability to reject an unauthorized transfer attempt. My first blog post discussed why that’s a bad idea. A newer blog post highlighted the fact that the “AuthInfo Code” (to be renamed the “TAC” — Transfer Authorization Code) is the key to the kingdom” and thus its security is paramount. I compared it to the lack of security of a “bearer bond” (vs. a wire transfer).

Can we do better? I’ve come up with two different ideas.

Continue reading “Making Domain Name Transfers More Secure”