Feeds

Domain registrars push back on law enforcement changes

Changes through the backdoor?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The companies that sell domain names have pushed back on proposals made by law enforcement yesterday to change their contracts to make cybercrime more difficult.

Calling the proposals “policy by the back door”, the registrars complained to members of ICANN’s Board in Brussels that the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) should only be changed through the organization’s official policy-development process. And they asked for the Board’s help in making sure they weren’t used as the fall-guys for online crime.

In a main session yesterday at the ICANN meeting in Brussels, the international police, including the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, argued for changes to the contract that defines what registrars are obliged to do, in an effort to make sure there were “mandatory minimum standards” in the registration of domain names.

But the registrars themselves feel that publicizing changes to their main contract without going through the proper processes put them into a defensive position and made their business environment difficult.

Contracts need to remain stable for periods of time, argued Rob Hall, the CEO of Canada’s largest registrar, Momentus, and there needed to be a clear process for making changes to it. Shifts in the rapidly changing domain name system could be done instead through more-flexible best practices.

Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows, the third largest registrar in the world, agreed, complaining that the good actors — who represent the vast majority of domain names in existence — risk being punished for the behavior of a few bad actors. “No one in this room [i.e., a member of the registrar constituency of ICANN] has ever had a complaint held against them or been de-accredited,” he pointed out.

The changes suggested by law enforcement would cause registrars to have to make potentially costly changes to their businesses, with some of that cost likely passed onto everyday Internet users.

Instead of “forcing through” changes to the RAA and making registrars figure out how to change their business models, others within ICANN — including governments and law enforcement themselves — could do more work at their end to ease the headaches, Noss said. This might include producing a clear definition of whom would be entitled to access to private data for defeating cybercriminals and how this would work.

Hall also argued that some of the changes being proposed would never make it through the rigorous policy development process and so were being pushed through a different route.

In response, ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush agreed strongly with the point that significant changes to the RAA should only come through the approved policy processes and vowed to make sure that happened.

Board member and CFO of another registrar, Melbourne IT, Bruce Tonkin, agreed and argued that ICANN occasionally confused what was a policy decision with what was an implementation of existing policy.

All that said, the chair of the registrars' constituency, Mason Cole from Oversee, pointed out that the registrars had had a very productive meeting with the law enforcement officials earlier in the day and would be actively working with them to find ways to cut down on cybercrime.

So long as it doesn’t contractually oblige them to fix the problem, that is. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.