New ICANN Policy May Make Cybersquatting Easier

Jeff Berg
MARINA DEL REY — New policies set to be instituted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers on Friday may make domain name theft significantly easier.

The new regulations state that once a domain transfer request is made, it will be automatically approved within five days unless the current domain owner denies the request.

Current policy on domain transfers requires a response from the current owner in order for the transfer to occur.

“Failure by the Registrar of Record to respond within five calendar days to a notification from the Registry regarding a transfer request will result in a default "approval" of the transfer,” according to the new policies.

“In the event that a Transfer Contact listed on the WHOIS has not confirmed their request to transfer with the Registrar of Record and the Registrar of Record has not explicitly denied the transfer request, the default action will be that the Registrar of Record will allow the transfer to proceed,” the policies continue.

Essentially, the new policy will treat all non-responses to transfer requests as affirmations of the request.

The impending implementation of the policies has caused some domain registrars to warn users and offer possible solutions to cut down any type of cyber-squatting behavior that may occur.

“We are sending an email to all domain customers informing [them] of a new domain transfer policy, enforced by ICANN,” domain registrar GoDaddy states on its website. “The policy dictates that we must honor any transfer requests, even if you do not personally confirm them.”

“To prevent unauthorized transfers, lock your domains,” the warning continues.

Domain names have become increasingly valuable electronic property in recent years. sold for roughly $5.5 million over the past year and was bought for approximately $2.75 million.

According Internet and hosting resource Netcraft, the major problem will come for business owners who loosely manage their domains and fail to update their WHOIS information regularly.

Among the many companies that have experienced critical domain lapses recently are The Washington Post and the Gawker weblog, owned by Fleshbot-creator Nick Denton.

Possibly in anticipation of a drastic increase in domain disputes caused by the new policy, ICANN announced Wednesday that it has secured the National Arbitration Forum and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre to provide independent dispute resolution services for the new policy.