Dot IE Policy Change has Clear Benefits says Blacknight CEO

Public Consultation Remains Open until 30 September

26 SEPTEMBER 2017, CARLOW, IRELAND
Summary
A change in the rules for .IE domain names will encourage the development of the Irish internet, says Michele Neylon, CEO of Ireland’s leading domain name registrar, Blacknight. Applicants will still have to prove a connection with Ireland, but it's proposed to do away with the requirement to show a valid reason for registering the domain. The 'claim-to-the-name', as it is called is costly, irksome and superfluous, explains Neylon. It is unnecessary because applicants are already validated by proving their connection to Ireland, and because IE Domain Registry's Dispute Resolution Policy provides adequate protection for intellectual property rights holders.

A change in the rules for registering IE domain names will encourage the development of the Irish internet, making it simpler, easier and cheaper for Irish businesses and individuals to register IE domain names.

That’s the view of Michele Neylon, CEO of Ireland’s largest domain name registrar and web hosting company, Blacknight.

About 25% of all IE domain names are registered with the Carlow company, which has played a leading role in the development of internet naming policy internationally, as well as in Ireland.

That experience has led Neylon and other industry stakeholders to advocate for a change in the rules at IE Domain Registry (IEDR), the company that manages the Irish national country-code domain.

Currently there are two main eligibility requirements to register a .IE domain name. First, the person or entity registering the name must show that they have a real connection with Ireland. This can include citizenship or residency, or company registration, but foreign companies or individuals are also eligible if, for example, they have a trading relationship with Ireland.

The Irish connection needs to be backed up with documentation, such as passports or utility bills, or invoices or letters from trading partners etc. There are no plans to change this policy, which is seen as ensuring the ‘Irishness’ of the IE domain.

What is proposed is to remove the second requirement: that the applicant shows that they have 'a valid reason' for registering the domain – this is called the ‘claim to the domain’.

Michele Neylon says the reason for the proposed change is that the ‘claim to the domain’ is an entirely subjective judgement which offers no assurances of any substance, while adding to the cost and complexity of the process for all involved.

“The ‘claim-to-the-name’ is a hangover from the early days of the IE domain”, he explains. “It was thought to be important to defend against people registering names they were not entitled to”.

Since then, however, domain registries like IEDR have developed Dispute Resolution Policies, backed up by intellectual property law, to protect trademark holders from infringement. These procedures have proved effective says Neylon, and those who register domain names in bad faith have been forced to give them up.

While many registrants use Company Registration Office registration to establish their claim to the name, an increasing number of registrants rely on a simple declaration such as: “I wish to register cheesesticks.ie to promote a new product line of snack foods which I plan to introduce next year”.

The problem, Neylon explains, is that each and every one of these declarations must be examined manually by staff, both at the registrar and at the .IE registry.

If the registry is unhappy with the declaration provided, it gets queried, which starts a chain of correspondence involving the registry, the registrar and the applicant, who may find that he or she is asked to provide further information.

The process can drag on for days (allowing for weekends and public holidays) and the applicant can that find their enthusiasm for a .IE domain name is tested.

By contrast, a .COM domain name can be registered and active within minutes, providing that the name applied for is available.

Not surprisingly, many applicants find it easier to simply choose a domain with less red tape. When they do, they can find they are cheaper as well, thanks to a less labour-intensive process.

The proposed policy change will bring .IE into line with other national domains such as .CA in Canada, which retains a similar requirement for applicants to have a Canadian connection, without asking for further justification.

As hundreds of new generic Top-Level Domains (TLDs) have come online in the last few years, consumers have greater choice than ever. .IE registrations grew by more than 5% last year, outpacing the average for country-code domains worldwide, but Neylon believes it could do much better.

“Research shows that .IE is a trusted brand in Ireland, and we want to see that continue and grow. The continuing requirement to prove an Irish connection will ensure the ‘Irishness’ of .IE, and protect against abuse. However the ‘claim-to-the-name’ requirement offers no benefit, drives up the cost, and discourages participation”, he says.

His industry colleagues on the IEDR’s Policy Advisory Committee agree, as does the board and management of IEDR itself, which has backed the change. A public consultation process is currently underway, and submissions are invited before the closing date on 30 September.

The form for submissions is available on the IEDR website at iedr.ie/public-consultation.We encourage people to make their views known”, says Neylon.

Quotes
"Research shows that .IE is a trusted brand in Ireland, and we want to see that continue and grow. The continuing requirement to prove an Irish connection will ensure the ‘Irishness’ of .IE, and protect against abuse. However the ‘claim-to-the-name’ requirement offers no benefit, drives up the cost, and discourages participation" Michele Neylon, CEO, Blacknight
"It was quite a complicated convoluted process, and the entire thing - very, very manual, highly subjective, highly problematic and it rendered the dot-IE namespace much less attractive than alternatives." Michele Neylon, CEO, Blacknight [download audio clip below]
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About Blacknight

Blacknight (http://www.blacknight.com/) are an Irish based, ICANN accredited domain registrar and hosting company. Recipients of several awards for their revolutionary use of social media, Blacknight are one of Europe’s most cutting edge Internet companies. Blacknight constantly seek to lead the way by introducing innovative solutions for its client base and provide dedicated servers and co-location as well as a comprehensive range of Microsoft Windows and Linux based hosting plans and domain name registration services to business globally. IP transit services and other solutions for more demanding business and academic customers are offered a la carte.

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