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Iron Mountain lands ICANN data escrow agreement

Long time coming

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Iron Mountain announced today that it has begun providing long-awaited data escrow services to ICANN and its panoply of approved registrars. Ever since the RegisterFly debacle exposed ICANN’s failure to account properly for the data escrow requirements of its Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA), data escrow has been at or near the top of the ICANN agenda.

ICANN-approved registrars provide domain registration and hosting services, and contact with a registrar is generally as close as your average domain holder gets to the nuts and bolts of the internet.

For those unfamiliar with RegisterFly saga, a bizarre personal feud between two business partners led to the first collapse of an ICANN-approved registrar. In the aftermath of this business failure, thousands of RegisterFly customers either lost their domains or were left in limbo for months. Had ICANN at the time enforced the RAA provision that required registrars to escrow registrants’ data, much of the consumer fallout and attendant bad press for ICANN could have been avoided.

“The vast majority of ICANN's accredited registrars offer high levels of service and integrity; however, as we have seen, there is the risk that poorly performing registrars can hurt registrants significantly. ICANN has selected Iron Mountain Digital as its escrow agent to help implement the Registrar Data Escrow program, a sensible and practical measure to protect registrants by storing and safeguarding a backup copy of domain name registration data in escrow,” said Paul Twomey, ICANN CEO and President, without mentioning RegisterFly by name – not to mention any of the other shoddy registrars out there, some of whom prefer not to take ICANN’s phone calls, as compliance director Stacy Burnette has acknowledged at the last couple of ICANN meetings.

The press release touts Iron Mountain’s experience and professionalism with escrowery.

“As the founder of the technology escrow industry, Iron Mountain is proud to have been selected for such an important escrow program,” said John Boruvka, vice president of Intellectual Property Management for Iron Mountain Digital. “ICANN joins thousands of customers worldwide who rely on Iron Mountain’s technology escrow services to protect their intellectual property.”

Other providers will also be allowed to provide escrow services subject to ICANN approval, but clearly the choice of Iron Mountain is meant to send a signal that ICANN is not going to tolerate the fly-by-night operators in data escrow that have existed on the fringes of the registrar community.®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

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