ICANN to File Suit Against RegisterFly

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — Frustrated by RegisterFly operators’ failure to provide registration data to ICANN officials, the Internet policymaking board has decided to file suit seeking a restraining order against the domain registrar, XBIZ has learned.

ICANN plans to file suit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles because it had increasing concern that the domain registrar’s customers would be “irreparably harmed” if it did not provide all of the requested data, as well as rolling updates every two days.

“RegisterFly’s failure to provide that data constitutes a breach of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement and places RegisterFly’s customer in great jeopardy,” according to a letter drawn up by ICANN outside counsel Jeffrey LeVee, an attorney with Los Angeles-based Jones Day.

In a letter earlier in the week to RegisterFly CEO Kevin Medina, ICANN said that the Miami-based company provided old customer data last week, the same information that it sent ICANN four weeks ago.

ICANN is seeking a temporary restraining order requiring that the registrar turn over all data relative to its customers.

Earlier this month, ICANN terminated RegisterFly’s accreditation after an internal ownership dispute lead to a barrage of customer complaints.

While ICANN was able to force RegisterFly to turn over some of the domain data, it was unable to preserve all of the company’s records because some were kept anonymously.

Meanwhile, ICANN board members meeting in Lisbon said they plan to look into changing the accreditation criteria for domain registrars.

ICANN Vice President Paul Levins said the rules governing domain registrars needed to be updated because they were written at a time when there were few firms offering the service. According to an ICANN figure, more than 800 companies now offer domain registration services.

ICANN said it would consider requiring potential registrar operators to prove a basic level of skill. ICANN also is considering a rule mandating that the agency give approval to any changes in a registrar company’s ownership.

ICANN also said it plans to explore the idea of creating contractual tools short of revoking a registrar’s license to insure compliance.

Other questions raised by the recent demise of RegisterFly are whether ICANN should tolerate anonymous domain registrations and whether the agency should keep a data repository in case of another problem reminiscent of RegisterFly.