On Wednesday, ICANN published a blog article, “Relief for Registrants in Response to COVID-19.” The relief described in the statement was in the form of not losing domain names due to expiry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The statement was vague in what was actually being offered by ICANN to domain name registrants, especially since it is the registrars that would need to provide the relief to its customers.
Here’s an excerpt from the ICANN blog post:
“To ease this burden, ICANN org will be invoking section 126.96.36.199 of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement for the second time. This clause permits registrars to temporarily forebear from cancelling domain name registrations that were unable to be renewed as a result of a natural disaster.
The COVID-19 pandemic once again highlights the potential need for a policy initiative to protect registrants when they are unable to renew their domains as a result of natural disasters or other extraordinary circumstances. In the interim, we encourage contracted parties to take these circumstances into consideration when reviewing renewal delinquencies.”
Not only is this a bit confusing for domain registrants, it is also confusing for domain investors who participate in expiry and drop catch auctions. Depending on what registrars offer to their registrant customers, expiry auctions could be impacted.
Because I found ICANN’s release a bit confusing regarding what is being offered and how it will impact domain registrants and investors, I reached out to several domain registrars to see what they will be doing about expiring domain names in response to the ICANN statement.
Due to a variety of factors including the holiday and working from home, a few companies I emailed have been unable to respond prior to publication. Here is what was shared with me so far:
Epik (Rob Monster, CEO):
We are passing through actual savings as we secure them.
See my Tweet:
We have no idea what ICANN is actually proposing. Their statement is vague nonsense. It is the registries that have to extend this relief. ICANN is a lame duck in this matter and is simply a chaos agent with their vacuous rhetoric.
ICANN should suspend all ICANN fees for 2020 for registries and registrars. That would be helpful. Quite frankly, anything else is nonsense. As it is, they canceled their 2020 events and have ample cash on hand from their gTLD cash grab.
Dynadot (Jacqueline Daly, Director of Marketing):
We are having internal discussions on the update made by ICANN and what we can do to help our registrants. We have already worked with several registries to reduce/remove restore fees for certain TLDs and have been working with customers on a case by case basis to try to help mitigate some of the financial strains during this global crisis. We are hoping to see more collaboration across our industry to help identify ways we can truly help our registrants. I will let you know when I have any additional updates on our expired process.
Web.com Group – includes Network Solutions, Register.com, Web.com (via spokesperson):
We appreciate the steps that ICANN has taken to allow us to be more flexible with our customers. In coordination with various registries, the Web.com Group registrars – Web.com, Network Solutions and Register.com – are waiving domain redemption fees for customers as needed during the pandemic. To that end, we are working with our customers – many of them small businesses – on a case-by-case basis to ease some of the burden during these challenging times.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and we’re in constant communication with the registries and others in the industry to determine how to best help our customers as they navigate this crisis.
Name.com (Ashley Forker, Director of Marketing):
Regarding expiring domain names during the coronavirus pandemic: Name.com’s best path for providing hardship relief to customers is working directly with registries to address restoration fees. Each registry is handling this situation differently, so customers should contact our support team to discuss options specific to their domains and services.
Namecheap (Richard Kirkendall, CEO):
We recognize that now is the time for us to step up and lend a helping hand where we can. We have already offered to help our customers by giving them extra time with any renewals for products we own end to end, including giving them free service during this time if need be. We are also currently researching extending the expired and deletion period for our entire customer base, including pausing any action that may have previously triggered a domain to go to an expired auction for at least the next 60 days, as well as waving any late fees on re-activations completely.
GoDaddy (Paul Bindel, Vice President Domains, GoDaddy Registrar)
During this difficult time, we have made the decision to waive all redemption fees, regardless of the registry’s policy.
NameSilo (Endrit Muca, Chief Marketing Officer):
NameSilo will be passing 100% of the waived redemption fees to our customers and waiving our fees for these actions as well. This will apply to all domains not caught in expired auctions across participating TLDs – which at this time include .COM, .NET and .ORG with the list growing daily. Requests will be processed manually on a per-case basis. We will also work with our customers to resolve cases of domains caught in expired auctions, pending proof of inability to renew due to health-related causes. Customers are encouraged to contact our support team at email@example.com to learn more. Stay safe and take care!
Thank you Elliot for providing and sharing this information.
Excellent as usual.
Be Well. Stay Safe
Yes, but this ICANN mandate/provision doesn’t really make sense since it get’s in the way of people who may have lost their job and need to start a new business and is counting on registering an abandoned domain.
If the domain is locked up from expiring/deleting, then this hurts the whole DNS ecosystem.
It seems like ICANN is essentially asking registrars to do is turn the expired domains into a Virtual DNS Blackhole of Death.
So does this ICANN mandate/provision also mean that we can stop paying domain renewal fees and still retain ownership as well as keep the site/domain online?
And shouldn’t they set an example by not collecting registrar fees from each of the accredited registrars?
Anything less than this is a real double standard, right?
Observer, you sound like you are an active bidder on expired domains.
Why would I have to be an active bidder just to state a true fact?
Would someone who is not an active bidder disagree?
So someone who is now working out of their home due to this pandemic situation can’t acquire an expiring domain?
Does it make sense that all expired domains will now go to a virtual black hole where no one can use it? Clearly, the registrars won’t allow the registrants to use the domains if they don’t pay the renewal, otherwise, there would be no incentive for the registrant to pay renewal fees.
So the current owner won’t be able to use it until they pay.
And, simultaneously, someone who wants to register an expired domain will be prevented from doing so.
How is any of this good for the DNS ecosystem?
Epik has the worst redemption fee of $15 days, plus their corporate office is a UPS store!
Godaddy’s new Uniregistry arm is still charging redemption fees?