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ICANN rides to the rescue in Registerfly meltdown

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In a sudden about face, ICANN has concluded that it does indeed have authority over renegade domain pusher Registerfly.

A lawsuit against the recently ousted CEO that alleges corporate spending on such sumptuous perks as escorts and liposuction, not to mention a Miami Beach penthouse, has shone a harsh light on the inner workings of the failing company, and left increasingly desperate and angry domain holders with nowhere else to turn.

Kurt Pritz, the senior vice president of services at ICANN, has posted on the ICANN ombudsman blog a letter to Glenn Stansbury, VP of operations at Registerfly, threatening to revoke Registerfly's domain accreditation unless the company cleans up its act in the next 15 days.

Registerfly, which controls approximately two million domain names, has come under withering criticism recently. Complaints of rampant over-charging and grossly negligent handling of domain registrations over a period of two years have led to the creation of angry websites and stinging criticism of ICANN itself.

Although the letter (formally known as a "Notice of Breach of ICANN Registrar Accreditation") provides a two-year timeline of customer complaints of alleged Registerfly misbehavior, until now ICANN has steadfastly maintained, at least publicly, that disputes between a domain holder and a registrar were not its responsibility.

The customer complaints listed in the letter provide a unique view of a company in utter disarray. According to ICANN, employees in the "Risk/Fraud" department worked on a pure commission basis, leading to rampant overcharging and retaliation for customers saucy enough to complain. One particularly heated customer service argument allegedly resulted in the customer's 220 domain names being transferred to the name of company CEO Kevin Medina.

Even ICANN got burned. Near the end of the letter, ICANN documents its own three-month campaign to force Registerfly to pay $131,422.86 in back accreditation fees owed. Registerfly is still in arrears.

Although a recent Reg article provoked an angry public response from ICANN ombudsman Frank Fowlie, the sheer volume of criticism seems to have made clear to ICANN that something needed to be done. It's a welcome precedent, and not a moment too soon. ®

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