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.]