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CPH TechOps Retrospective 2018

From the perspective of the domain name industry, 2018 was strongly influenced by, among other things, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Temporary Specification and especially the Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP).

For the Contracted Parties House (CPH) TechOps Group, one year after its foundation, it was a very exciting and intensive time. This initiative was created to tackle technical and operational needs and challenges plus ideally to create best practices. With more than 100 people from different registries and registrars, the TechOps group has grown a lot, but due to many other time-consuming topics, we could only concentrate on a few things. Anyways, as one of the Co-Chairs of CPH TechOps, I would like to take a look back on what we were working on and what we achieved.

Registry Maintenance Notifications

Domain name registries usually conduct maintenance and alert their registrars in different ways. Given the DNS namespace expansion, it became desirable to create a standardized method. In January 2018 the group submitted a revised Internet-Draft based on a new defined EPP extension to do so. We submitted this draft to the IETF Registration Protocols Extensions (REGEXT) working group asking for adoption.

GDD Summit 2018

This year in May the fourth GDD Summit took place in Richmond, BC and it was the first-time track-based with a 1.5-day TechOps sessions. These sessions were quite well attended and the room for about 100 people was at times overcrowded. Among other topics, we wanted to take the opportunity to exchange information on possible new domain transfer methods, because it was clear to us that transfers will need a different approach due to GDPR. Although the Temporary Specification made it still possible to do transfers and we know that we cannot change any policy in this group by ourselves, but we wanted to look at more promising models, which we summarized in a white paper for further discussions.

Temporary Specification

If we are already talking about domain transfers, then we should also take a quick look at the Temporary Specification, which became effective by the end of May 2018. Appendix G broadly follows the recommendation developed by the TechOps. It was clear to us that we cannot support the current transfer policy under GDPR, but we had an intensive and lively discussion on how to ease the impact. The removal of the Form of Authorization (FOA) was our best and fastest option. However, we should find a better domain transfer solution in the midterm.

Registry Reporting Repository and Reports

Modern top-level domain registries offer a number of detailed reports and documents that their registrars need on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. These most commonly include transaction reports, as well as lists containing unavailable domains and current premium domains. These reports are critical for registrars’ businesses and play an important role in accounting and operations processes as well as in sales and marketing activities. Starting in July 2018 the group submitted a series of Internet-Drafts to create a best practice around that.

The two drafts on the Registry Reporting Repository and the Registry Report Structure describe a server and the format for future reports, while five more draft reports for Transactions, Premium Domain Fees, Domain Inventory, Domain Drops and Unavailable Domains are now available. We submitted these drafts to the IETF REGEXT working group asking for adoption.

TechOps Website

While TechOps regularly conducts calls and face-to-face meetings at ICANN Meetings and publishes its work, we realized that we should create a single point of contact where we can refer to in discussions with others. Therefore, we recently launched the website https://bestpractice.domains. It is a showcase of our work with links to the IETF and Google documents as well as to GitHub repositories.

What’s to come in 2019?

The EPDP team will complete their final report before ICANN64 in Kobe, and it will be interesting to see how their work will replace the Temporary Specification from a technical and operational point of view.

Regardless, the next ICANN GDD Summit will be held in Bangkok and like last time there will be some TechOps sessions. We want to finish our work we have started, but also work on new topics, such as Bulk Transfers, Billing Cycle and Renewals, etc.

Furthermore, there will be another change with the new EU ePrivacy Regulation at the end of 2019. It is not yet clear to what extent this will have an impact on us, but it is desirable that the industry is better prepared this time than with GDPR.

By the way, if you are a member of the Registry or Registrar Stakeholder Group and want to join the TechOps initiative, then please do not hesitate to contact the secretariat in question. While TechOps is open to everyone from both stakeholder groups, we are especially looking for product managers and software developers to join us.

We wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2019.

By Tobias Sattler, Executive Advisor

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