ICANN Considers Seeking International Immunity - And Don’t Forget RegisterFly
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It’s not just a matter of getting away from the influence – or more accurately the pressure – of the U.S. government. Remember what I said about U.S. law? Right now, it is entirely legal to sue ICANN. In fact, it faces a lawsuit over some actions it took, or more precisely failed to take quickly enough (so say the plaintiffs) pertaining to RegisterFly.
The situation with RegisterFly is long and complicated. When I wrote about it more than a month ago, it was already a disaster and still unfolding. If you want extensive details about the situation, you can go to Registerflies. Meanwhile, let me see if I can give you the short version.
RegisterFly used to be an affiliate of eNom, and customers could register domain names with RegisterFly, who went to eNom to complete the process. Eventually RegisterFly became a registrar in its own right, accredited by ICANN. Becoming an accredited registrar meant that it had to adhere to certain standards, including those involving customer services. Due in part to grievances between the partners, and quite possibly some malfeasance, RegisterFly’s customer service was apparently outsourced to one of the nine circles of Hell.
ICANN was made aware of this, but did not start taking effective action until a number of disgruntled RegisterFly customers – a better word would be “victims” – threatened them with a lawsuit. ICANN can strip RegisterFly of its accredited status and oversee the bulk transfer of domain names from RegisterFly to some other registrar. That may not sound like much, but to those whose businesses depend on their domain names, and have not had access to the names even to renew them (or paid for renewals that did not go through) it would mean the end of a long and very painful ordeal.
What I would like to point out at this juncture, though, is that ICANN had to be threatened with a lawsuit before it took steps to do the right thing. And this was long after it was made repeatedly aware of RegisterFly’s problems. If lawsuits are the only hammer that ICANN will respond to, do we really want to make them immune?
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