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ICANN Takes a Step Toward Ending Domain Tasting 155

Posted by kdawson
from the what-we-don't-need-when-we-don't-need-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For years, domain squatters have exploited an ICANN loophole: whenever a domain name is registered, ICANN collects a 20-cent fee from the registrar. To allow for non-paying customers, the registrar can return it five days later for a full refund. The loophole has let unscrupulous registrars constantly create and refund domain-squatting websites, selling 'what you need when you need it' advertising. The problem has grown so bad that every month the world's top three domain squatters, all located in Miami with the same address and represented by the same lawyer, recycle 11 million domain names. After years of complaints, ICANN has finally begun moving on the problem. On April 17 ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization voted to make the ICANN 20-cent fee non-refundable. If the ICANN board ratifies this position in June, those top three squatters will be getting a monthly bill for $2.2M. News of the ICANN changes has been applauded by legitimate Internet businesses, tired of having to choose nonsense names because all the good ones have been squatted. ICANN has published an analysis of the economics of ending domain squatting."
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ICANN Takes a Step Toward Ending Domain Tasting

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  • Higher. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mingot (665080) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @02:27PM (#23242654)
    Make it a buck.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      Make it 5 bucks, people legitimately registering a domain would not be affected and registrars would end up ending domain tasting in its entirety.

      All the registrars are gonna do is go 'Ok, $5 non-refundable if you cancel this domain' or something to that effect.
      • by Dog-Cow (21281)
        This is simply not true. If the fee was raised to $5, the cost to registrees would go up at least $4.80. Remember, the $0.20 currently goes to ICANN, not the registrars. If the costs to the registrars goes up, the cost to the registrees will go up as well.
    • Currently, ICANN takes a 20-cent cut of the registration fee, the registry and registrars get to split $6.22 somehow, and the registrars get to charge whatever they like above that for convenient friendly service etc.

      Back when somebody at ICANN invented the Annoying Grace Period that facilitates Domain Tasting, they mandated that the registry and registrars give the money back if somebody returns a domain name within 5 days. I guess it "seemed like a good idea at the time", but of course it's become obviou

  • So if this goes through, will these three squatters be forced to bend over?
  • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @02:32PM (#23242720) Homepage Journal
    Now those squatters and domain registrars will work together to keep those domains locked up for good. If the domain registrars themselves are the ones registering the domains, their true cost will be a lot less than $6/year, especially if 90% of the domains resolve to the same IP address/web ad parking page.

    I mean, how much does it cost for Registrar A and its affiliate company B to register 1M domain-names and point them all to the same IP address? Not $6M/year.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No the registrars themselves have to pay ~ $6 a year/per name to the registry ( verisign ) for the domains they themselves purchase. So yes, it does cost anyone other than verisign at least 6 million to register 1 Million names.
    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @03:00PM (#23243094) Homepage
      Forcing non-refundable fees would kill the profit margins because these guys would then have to pay for domains that aren't generating any revenue for them. As it is now, they can register thousands of domains essentially for free and get rid of the ones that don't make any money.

      I think it's a good plan, but I think the 20 cents is too low. There should be a 1 or even 5 or 10 dollar fee that's non-refundable, and the total cost of a domain should be higher than it is. That would help eliminate domain tasting as well as eliminate domain squatting, wherein legitimate users have to pay inflated prices for domains anyway because squatters are holding them hostage.
      • by cgenman (325138)
        Others have suggested scaling cost with number of domains owned.
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      TFA addresses that:

      And so, in answer to the question: how much does it cost to end domain tasting?

      The answer is: $1,284 per domain.

      The maths was provided to the Board a fortnight ago by Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz. From the minutes: Kurt Pritz indicated that presently ICANN charges a 20-cent fee on every registration that lasts longer than five days (i.e., not a tasted name). Tasted names comprise more than 95% of all registrations, only 1 name in 20 "sticks". Registrars that exclusively taste and

      • No. You're mixing up the required revenue for an individual name to be valuable, the average revenue for the practice of tasting to be profitable with a $0.20 ICANN fee, and the average revenue required with a full no-refund policy on both the ICANN and Registry fees.

        An individual name is profitable if it gets more than ~6.42/year, because that's the cost of registering and keeping it, including the ICANN fee and Registrar fee. Tasting as a practice is profitable today if the additional fees charged by a

        • by Reziac (43301) *
          No, what they figured (this is from TFA, not me) is that since it takes NN-many attempts to come up with ONE profitable domain, the cost of those NN-many attempts (if you don't get it entirely refunded) has to be figured into the profit equation.

          And I was surprised that their number was so high, but consider that over 99% of tasted domains are rolled over.... without refunds, suddenly that's a good deal more cash, even at a few cents apiece.

          • I'll take TFA's word for the only-one-in-200-gets-kept figure (99.5%). We don't really know what fraction of those names are making _some_ money, because the 199 duds include some names that only get tasted once and some names that get repeatedly kited every time their 5-day period runs out, and the article doesn't really differentiate.

            The cost of those 199 dud attempts is currently near-zero (so it's worthwhile kiting names even if you don't put much effort into predicting their quality very well, because

            • by Reziac (43301) *
              Yeah, I agree there are a lot of guesses and assumptions there... a worst-case-for-tasters scenario. But even $50/year out of their pockets is that much less profit, and anything that makes their lives harder is good by me :)

              As someone else pointed out, tho, the REAL financial *enablers* are the advertising vendors, primarily Google. If they would refuse to serve ads to any domain that hasn't been continuously registered for at least 30 days (which presumably could be confirmed by WHOIS info), a lot of this
              • Actually Google announced a couple of months ago that they'd stop accepting AdSense advertising for kited domains. The first article or two that I just looked at said it didn't know the specifics of how they were going to identify those domains - you could speculate that they'd use whois data, but you could also speculate that some registrars would start offering to backdate their whois records just to thwart that... (:-)
                • by Reziac (43301) *
                  Ah, I'd missed that, thanks. (Or forgotten about it. Mind like a ...??) Yeah, no doubt some registrars are that crooked, and I imagine some of the kiters ARE registrars.... Google et al. will just have to figure out which can be trusted, and not deal with domains that come through the known crooks.

  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @02:37PM (#23242806)
    Gasp! The ICANNon has fired a shot at the domain squatters! That thing has been sitting there for years rusting, I never thought I'd see the day it actually did anything.
    • Well, I'm sure they won't mind pocketing the extra dough either.
      • by Simon80 (874052)
        There won't be any extra dough for them to pocket, since the closure of the loophole will eliminate large-scale tasting.
        • by antic (29198)
          It is absolutely unbelievable that it has taken so long for action to be taken on this issue. Spineless bitches. There are also thousands of domains composed of random characters used entirely for spamming and the like. They bring no value to the internet whatsoever. Crack down on it immediately.

          Tasting should never have been allowed in the first place.
  • So it looks like our buddies at ICANN are again ignoring the larger problems that they could take action against, in favor of solving problems that only a small group of people care about.

    I would be much more impressed with ICANN if they actually started punishing the registrars that are so blatantly making profit from internet crime. There is a long list of registrars that sell .com domains to spam kings like Kuvayev for him to sell drugs and pirated software. And conveniently enough, many of these registrars will claim to not speak English when you try to ask them about it through their support - even though they provide registration details in clear English. And these same registrars will claim to be located overseas anyways, and hence are not responsible for following US laws.

    ICANN has allowed a long list of criminals to make money off the internet. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to a foreign domain registry, but ICANN is turning a blind eye towards the .com and .org registries as well, all in the apparent name of profit.
    • by lseltzer (311306)
      It's bigger than you think. In 2007 a majority of domains registered were for tasting purposes.
      • It's bigger than you think. In 2007 a majority of domains registered were for tasting purposes.

        That may be true, but it doesn't really counter my statement of it being a problem that only a small group of people care about. I would have a very hard time believing that domain tasting has affected anywhere near as many people on the internet as has the spam that has been made possible by complacent registrars and the do-nothing organization known as ICANN.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by iamhigh (1252742) *
      Spam and internet crimes are just that, crimes. Trying to hold ICANN accountable for the registrars, who have to police who they sell to is ridiculous.

      I bet they use Dell servers to send out the spam, should we require Dell to ensure that all sales are for legit reasons? What about Western Digital and Best Buy that sell all those hard drives to pedos?

      It's a nice thought, but probably impossible, and definately illogical.
      • Trying to hold ICANN accountable for the registrars, who have to police who they sell to is ridiculous.

        Its not a question of ICANN being held responsible for the actions of their customers (the registrars). Its a question of ICANN actually holding registrars to the terms of registrar obligations [icann.org] in the registrar accreditation agreement [icann.org]. In particular, ICANN requires that the registrars maintain valid contact data for their customers, which they seldom do when selling to spammers.

        I'm not asking for ICANN to "police" anyone. I'm just asking for them to actually require accredited registrars to meet t

        • say i have put some individual i paid $200 a month in cape verde islands as domain registrar. and icann held registrar to its agreement and get this individual's contact info. WHAT is icann going to do about this ? what is anyone going to do about this ?
          • ICANN has the ability to strip a registrar of their ability to sell domains in many of the largest TLDs. Indeed, that is exactly what the accreditation is about - it allows a registrar to sell domains in those TLDs. ICANN is supposed to - though almost never does - strip a registrar of their accreditation and ability to sell these domains when they fail to obey the rules.

            It is by no means as punitive as a legal action, but it can be crippling for a registrar to lose their ability to sell .com domains, f
            • its not about what registrar does. its about WHAT i do. if i put a cayman citizen as registrar in there, set up entire operation in his name, and neither icann nor wto nor us govt cant do shit about it, because whatever that is being done is LEGAL in cayman.
              • This all depends on what TLD you place your domain under. If you buy a domain that is a .com, .net, .org, or any of the others that are owned by ICANN, then their rules apply regardless of what country you are in.

                However, if you actually read the rules, you'll see that they apply to registrars, and not domain owners. So really it doesn't matter what you do in the Cayman Islands with your domain, as far as ICANN is concerned. However, if your registrar is providing bogus data for your registration, then
                • icann just disseminates domain names according to its rules. so do registrars. if someone legally owns a domain, and is a cayman citizen, and the activity they are doing is not recognized as crime according to international laws, there isnt single shit you can do.
                  • Have you even looked at the ICANN web site? Read the rules for registrars that I already pointed you to.

                    For that matter, read what I already said. You are talking about crime, and I am talking about ICANN registrar regulations. The two are not the same. ICANN is the corporation that regulates who can sell domains within certain TLDs. It doesn't matter if the activity is criminal anywhere or not, ICANN's ability to act against registrars is based on the registrar accreditation process and requiremen
        • I would have used a longer term than "Bad", such as "Egregious" or "OverReaching" or "Abusive", but /. thought the title was too long.... :-)

          Maybe you haven't been watching the domain name policies evolve, and assume that they way they are today is both good and necessary. I've been paying attention to them since the mid-80s, and back then it wasn't clear that the market would even accept a system that had a single Root in charge of who could use what names - after all, UUCP worked quite well without it, a

          • I'm not sure where you're going with most of what you've just said. But I will start with your faulty assumption (again):

            And of *course* you were asking for ICANN to police people who want to buy domain names

            I urge you to go back to my original post and read it more carefully. At no point did I ask ICANN for policing of domain registrants. My complaint is that ICANN does a horse-shit job of regulating registrars.

            Have you read the requirements for accredited registrars? They really don't ask much from the registrars, and really they don't even ask that accredited registrars keep up

            • Fine, if you want to be precise about it, you're asking for ICANN to require that their registrars enforce anti-privacy policies so that they and other people can police people who want to buy domain names, rather than asking that ICANN do the police work themselves. (But if you've followed ICANN for very long, you know that they want to control all the TLDs, not just the .us and old and new global TLDs. And the global TLDs are supposed to be global, though some of them were US-centric at the beginning.)

              A

              • Once again, you are inserting the term "policing" because that is what you want to read my post to be about. I have never asked for ICANN to do any policing, nor have I been asking for anyone else to do policing in their place.

                I am simply asking that ICANN actually require the registrars that they have accredited to follow the terms of registrar accreditation. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

                The examples that I gave are not because I am looking for enforcement for specific situations. Ind
    • by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @04:17PM (#23244394) Homepage
      "I'm not going to sell you this domain because I disapprove of the purpose for which you will use it" is a dangerous position to take. What's happening here is just closing a loophole that allows domains to be used for free- a simple, clear problem.
      • "I'm not going to sell you this domain because I disapprove of the purpose for which you will use it" is a dangerous position to take. What's happening here is just closing a loophole that allows domains to be used for free- a simple, clear problem.

        The first problem with your statement is the fact that ICANN does not sell domains. I'm talking about problems with ICANN and how the regulate (or rather fail to regulate) the registrars that they are tasked with the regulation of.

        It has nothing to do with whether or not ICANN gives a damn what domains are being used for - they've already shown they don't. It has to do with the fact that ICANN has laid out rules that registrars are supposed to be obliged to follow (see the link I posted previously)

    • while serious, spam kings and internet crime is not impacting everyone on the net. however squatting is affecting EVERYone, whether they are startups trying to get a good domain or ordinary people trying to set up a family album site.
      • squatting is affecting EVERYone, whether they are startups trying to get a good domain or ordinary people trying to set up a family album site.

        I disagree. How many people who are using the internet are looking to purchase a domain name, if they don't already own one? There are plenty of users on the internet who have zero interest in owning a domain name - for that matter there is still a large portion of internet users who wouldn't even know what to do with their own domain name, if it were given to them for free this afternoon.

        On the other hand, though, how many email addresses don't receive spam of some sort anymore? The statistics o

        • by unity100 (970058)
          same arguments can be put against internet crime in your context. each email receives spam. the people who are using decent services like gmail, or serious web hosts for email do not receive any noticeable amount of spam. first hand experience. its a choice matter, not inevitability.
          • people who are using decent services like gmail, or serious web hosts for email do not receive any noticeable amount of spam

            Those are just the effects of filtering you are talking about at that point. You are ignoring the storage and computational costs of those filters. You are also ignoring the false positive effects of the same. You cannot just discard the impact of spam because you like your filters.

            And once you take into account the traffic, storage, and computational costs of spam, and how essentially everyone has to pay to deal with it one way or another, you'll see that it has a much larger impact than domain tas

            • by unity100 (970058)
              excuse me but you are just escaping to irrelevant arguments as defense.

              there are pluses and minuses for everything. entire wold is using cars for transportation, and its working well. but there are the environmental costs that is making entire world pay. same goes for email protocol. it works real well, but it has its downsides. you have to put up with them, because this is the way life works. you cant get a rose without its thorns.
              • excuse me but you are just escaping to irrelevant arguments as defense.

                I'd be interested in knowing how you came to that conclusion.

                I began this thread by stating that more people are affected by spam than by domain tasting. I have stayed on topic with that throughout. Every statement I've made since you replied to this part of the thread has been on how spam affects more people, more significantly, than domain tasting.

                I guess if you don't like the argument, you don't have to. But that doesn't make it irrelevant just because you disagree with what I've said.

                • by unity100 (970058)

                  I began this thread by stating that more people are affected by spam than by domain tasting.

                  let me give an example and answer both questions of yours, one of which was 'how did you come to that'.

                  much more people are affected by mosquitoes than spam. or domain tasting. yet, we are not proceeding to drench every lake and pond and stillwater around the world.

                  because mosquito problem is a minor annoyance. it is a problem only in countries where diseases that are carried around by them still exist. for the rest of the world, its a minor annoyance.

                  same goes for spam and domain tasting. spam is

                  • let me give an example and answer both questions of yours, one of which was 'how did you come to that'.

                    The question I just posed to you is how did you come to conclude that I am "escaping to irrelevant arguments in defense".

                    You utterly failed to answer that question. But we can continue anyways.

                    compared to spam, domain tasting affects anyone who intend to use domain names

                    Domain tasting can affect people who want to purchase new domain names. It does not affect everyone who intend to use domain names, as you state. People who already own domain names are not affected by domain tasting, since their domains are already registered.

                    And you are still ignoring the fact that th

                    • by unity100 (970058)

                      The question I just posed to you is how did you come to conclude that I am "escaping to irrelevant arguments in defense". You utterly failed to answer that question. But we can continue anyways.

                      you utterly failed to establish analogy. the idea is, there are many things in the world that we are utilizing to an extreme extent, and they all have their downsides. if you cant accept drying all still waters because of the mosquito problem, your argument becomes invalid.

                      Domain tasting can affect people who want to purchase new domain names. It does not affect everyone who intend to use domain names, as you state. People who already own domain names are not affected by domain tasting, since their domains are already registered.

                      you are taking things out of their context here. domain tasting is destructive for someone who needs to purchase domain names. however spam is a minor annoyance for someone using email. you are taking WHOLE internet users and then us

                    • the idea is, there are many things in the world that we are utilizing to an extreme extent, and they all have their downsides.

                      Are you trying to make a point with that statement, or are you just trying to fillibuster the conversation? That statement has virtually no application to the topic or the thread.

                      If you read back to what I originally said, and take a look at what ICANN's duties are, you'll see that analogies are not needed. Everything I have been saying has been in the context of ICANN's mission to regulate internet registrars. My argument is that ICANN is failing on this mission and instead they are coming up with

                    • by unity100 (970058)

                      Are you trying to make a point with that statement, or are you just trying to fillibuster the conversation? That statement has virtually no application to the topic or the thread.

                      if you are not able to get the analogy there, i doubt that debating with you will bear any fruit. therefore ill just run a short reply to your post all in one go and get off this conversation.

                      law prevails. legally registrars are doing nothing wrong, they are sticking by the laws where they are incorporated and sticking with icann rules too. its the abusers that are abusing the system in places that they can, and you have to proceed with that country's law against it, or international laws, or wto rules.

                    • i doubt that debating with you will bear any fruit.

                      Debating generally involves actually acknowledging that the other person has said something. You, on the other hand, have been just taking what you want to see from my posts, and then twisting it into something other than what I have said. Case in point:

                      law prevails. legally registrars are doing nothing wrong

                      I have not said anything about the registrars action (or lack thereof) regarding illegal activities. I have acknowledged several times (yet you have failed several times to read it) that ICANN has no legal authority. ICANN cannot do anything with

                    • by unity100 (970058)
                      have a nice day
                    • I'll take that as your admission that you haven't actually read what I have written. I can understand from reading what you have written that you have far too much pride to admit that you initiated, and maintained, your side of the argument on your mis-reading of what I said.

                      You have been forgiven for your mistake. Hopefully you've learned a little about your own assumptions and will read more carefully before going down the same path in the future.
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      I would be much more impressed with ICANN if they actually started punishing the registrars that are so blatantly making profit from internet crime. There is a long list of registrars that sell .com domains to spam kings like Kuvayev for him to sell drugs and pirated software.

      Asking ICANN to police the legality of online vendors is like asking the Social Security Administration to police credit card fraud because, after all, you can't get a credit card without presenting a social security number, right?

      In other words: get a clue, ICANN is neither empowered nor equipped to act in any sort of law enforcement capacity. They're a corporation (that's what the 'C' in ICANN stands for) not a government agency.

      • Asking ICANN to police the legality of online vendors

        There's no policing in my statement. You placed it there. I am asking that ICANN actually enforce the registrar policies [icann.org] that they state on their own website for registrars seeking accredited status. If you read that, you'll see it has nothing to do with legality or lack thereof. Indeed, it has nothing to do with vendors, either. It is all about the registrars, which is where my beef stands with ICANN. There are plenty of registrars that have attained the accredited status (allowing them to sell in

    • As much as some people in the US government, and a few people like you in the Enemies-of-Evil business, would like it, ICANN shouldn't be in the censorship business, and for the most part they aren't. They're in the business of administering name space, and they're trying to make sure they don't sell names that violate existing trademarks - and even that's controversial, because there are businesses in different geographical areas with similar names (Joe's Pizza in different cities), and businesses in diff
      • Kindly read what I said before you reply to it.

        people like you in the Enemies-of-Evil business, would like it, ICANN shouldn't be in the censorship business, and for the most part they aren't

        I never said that they were, nor did I ever ask them to be. My gripe with ICANN is in how they deal with registrars, or rather in how they don't.

        If you go back and read what I posted, you will see that my gripe is in how they fail to actually enforce the regulations that they place on registrars. In particular, they require accredited registrars to provide accurate whois data. However, if you run a whois on a spamvertised domains, odds are the whois d

  • This happened to me a few weeks ago. It's a repugnant practice - and I am far from a knee-jerk, anti-corporate person. But just because my friend made the mistake of looking up our domain using NSI, and we needed it in a rush, we were forced to buy it from NSI, even though we could have gotten it for a fraction of the cost somewhere else.

    The service that registrars provide is so basic, if someone can charge NSI's prices, it means that there is a market failure.
  • Domain squatters are by far one of the biggest things holding back the Internet. Squatting has gotten so bad that the name of your company has to be complete gibberish in order to match an available domain name. Just try coming up with a company name that has a similar domain name available. You'll find that most of the domains you try either have some sort of spam link portal or a "buy this domain for $200!" page. Only a few are actual web sites. If you don't believe me, try it.

    This "domain tasting" thing
    • What you describe as bigger issues are actually just facets of the domain tasting issue itself.
    • by thogard (43403)
      Australia doesn't have this problem this week. They require that you have a registered business name or some other reason for having the domain name and as a result it has kept the com.au domain name space fairly clean how ever soon they will be changing the rules so they can make more money by allowing the criminals in.
    • No, central registry should just put the rates up until it ceases to be profitable for companies to park crap that earn practically no money on squatted domains. They've started doing that with closing this loophole, now they need to do more of the same.

      Or at any rate, that's how this shit is supposed to work.
  • Let's see: 365 days a year, and they can only hold them for 5 days, so that's 73 times a year to cycle a name (give or take). Let's just round it to 75 because I'm cool like that.

    So .20 a cycle at 75 cycles per year means it'll cost a whole $15.00 per year to taste a domain name.

    Sure, with 11 million domains to cycle through that makes for a pretty big number. But, Considering that you can sell useful domains for anywhere from $20 to $20,000... They can still keep cycling all they want. Just the less

    • it'll cost a whole $15.00 per year to taste a domain name.
      It only costs about $7/year to register a domain outright. But the tasters are making less than $7/year in revenue from each domain, so they can't afford to either register them or continue tasting.
  • I thought shooting then on sight would be a nice and permanent solution to the problem, but I can live with billing them 2M a month ;)
  • They should require that a site must have a certain % of content (beside ads) that is related to de domain name for at least x amount of time or they can deny it. Like a "probation" period. Is it feasible ?

    It seems that some people are forgetting that a domain name has nothing to do with a website. That is, hosting a "legit" and "useful" website using a domain name is NOT the only reasonable activity that demonstrated "non-squatting".

    A domain name is simple a human language token for an system of IP address

    • No, but you could (not necessary should, but COULD) require them to respond in some way to basic HTTP requests on TCP port 80 that would identify the domain and the function it is supposed to be performing.

      For example, http://rtfm.mit.edu/ [mit.edu] puts up a static-content page that tells you what the site is for, even though it's meant to be an ftp repository for usenet FAQs (I realize that rtfm.mit.edu is not actually a domain name, and also that there's really no reason not to have a web interface for something l
  • named.conf:--
    zone "name-services.com" { type master; file "empty.zone"; };

    zone "domainservice.com" { type master; file "empty.zone"; };

    zone "fastpark.net" { type master; file "empty.zone"; };


    (etc. etc. etc.)

    empty.zone:--
    @ IN SOA localhost. hostmaster.localhost. ( 2008042900 172800 900 1209600 3600 )
              IN NS localhost.

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