Concerns have been raised that ICANN may lack the tools to tackle DNS abuse using its contracts with registries and registrars.
The new report from the GNSO’s “small team” on abuse has highlighted two “gaps” in the current Compliance regime that may be allowing registrars to get away with turning a blind eye to abusive customers.
The current version of the standard Registrar Accreditation Agreement calls for registrars to maintain an abuse contact email and to “take reasonable and prompt steps to investigate and respond appropriately to any reports of abuse.”
The problem, the small team report finds, is that ICANN Compliance doesn’t seem to have a standard definition of “reasonable”, “prompt”, and “appropriately”. The contract doesn’t require any specific remediations from the registrar.
“Members of the small team are concerned that this interpretation may allow DNS abuse to remain unmitigated, depending upon the registrar’s specific domain name use and abuse policies,” the report states.
Judging by conversations at ICANN 75 last month, it’s apparently the first time Compliance has gone on the record about how it enforces this part of the contract.
It’s quite rare for ICANN to issue a public breach notice to a registrar over its failure to respond to abuse reports and when it does, it tends to relate to the registrar’s failure to keep records showing how it responded.
I can’t find any instances where Compliance has canned a registrar for allowing abusive domains — typically defined as those hosting malware, phishing, botnets, pharming and some spam — to remain active after an abuse report.
The small team’s report also thinks there’s a blind spot in ICANN’s standard Registry Agreement, which in turn requires registries to include, in their Registry-Registrar Agreements, provisions requiring anti-abuse terms in the registrars’ Registration Agreements.
This complex chain of contractual provisions doesn’t seem to be enforced, the small team notes, saying “further consideration may need to be given to what Registries are doing to ensure the text is indeed included in the Registration Agreement (ie Registries enforcing their own Registry-Registrar Agreements”.
The small team recommends that contracted parties talk further with ICANN about possible contract changes or best practices documents before going ahead with policy-making. The GNSO Council will address the recommendations later this month.