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Domain Name Registry and Registrar Separation Now Probably Going to Be a Policy Debate

Michele Neylon

Again on the subject of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs) ... One of the "issues" that concerned a number of people is the concept of "vertical separation".

The basic idea is that domain name registries and registrars should be kept separate.

While that is a wonderful Utopian ideal, the reality is that in the real world companies own other companies, people trade in stocks and shares etc., etc. So it's far from being a simple "cut and dried" situation.

It's also a situation that I personally think has been blown out of all proportion. And of course the people who are pushing it hard are the current registry operators. Can you say "monopoly"?
Or how about "fear"?

Be that as it may, the debate has been going on for months. During the Seoul meeting there was a public debate where both sides of the argument were able to "have it out", but while that may have helped clarify things for some people it didn't resolve it.

Fast forward to January 2010.

The GNSO council has now voted that the only way to resolve this issue once and for all is via a Policy Development Process (PDP) — which is ICANN speak for quite a drawn out policy development process:

A set of formal steps, as defined in the ICANN bylaws, to guide the initiation, internal and external review, timing and approval of policies needed to coordinate the global Internet's system of unique identifiers.

In many cases a PDP can take years to go through the full process, though there have been some exceptions in the recent past (think "domain tasting").

The motion that the GNSO council approved sets very clear limits on the PDP, but whether or not it will be possible for a policy debate as contentious (for some people) as this to be resolved in the 16 weeks mentioned or not is a different matter.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. More blog posts from Michele Neylon can also be read here.

Related topics: Domain Names, Registry Services, ICANN, Policy & Regulation

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