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ICANN Threatens RegisterFly Termination

ICANN sent a 10-page letter to RegisterFly on February 21st threatening to terminate its accreditation. The letter is available here.

ICANN’s not exactly advertising this—no conspicuous notice appears on its home page and, more curiously, no update has been posted by the Ombudsman despite two prior postings about RegisterFly in the past week. A member of the general public would be hard pressed to find out that any action has been threatened.

This February 21st letter provides some interesting information:

RegisterFly has 15 days to cure the multiple breaches or ICANN will give notice of termination of its Registry Accreditation Agreement. At that point, RegisterFly must either shut down or request arbitration. So they will be open for business for at least two more weeks and possibly longer. (Question: Might RegisterFly file bankruptcy in the next two weeks and try to use bankruptcy protection as a means of preventing ICANN from terminating its accreditation?)

ICANN and RegisterFly have had three face to face meetings to discuss ongoing breaches over the past year.

RegisterFly was accredited in October 2004 and complaints began to be filed against it in late 2005. In other words, it began to mishandle customer accounts right around the time the first of its registrations was up for annual renewal—certainly a major red flag.

Reports of “stolen names” began to be filed with ICANN in April 2006, so it has had knowledge of serious charges indicating possible malfeasance for almost one year.

An audit request filed by ICANN on May 26, 2006 was not complied with through the furnishing of full documentation until October 4, 2006 - why did ICANN let more than four months pass?

ICANN received a slew of high-level complaints about RegisterFly last month, January 2007, from other registrars, members of its own Board, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Substantial harm was indeed done to domain name owners who were RegisterFly’s customers—details range from the micro (one customer had 592 domain name transfers fail in October 2006) to the macro (at least 75,000 registrations were “lost” in January 2007). It seems possible that hundreds of thousands of domain name registrations, renewals or transfers were not carried out, causing harm to thousands of domain name owners - yet ICANN has yet to provide any guidance to RegisterFly customers as to how they may seek return of their domain names or compensation.

ICANN may have no other arrows in its quiver for use against RegisterFly other than to terminate accreditation. But, while it may not be fair to say this is “too little”, one has to wonder why decisive action came so late.

By Philip S. Corwin, Senior Director and Policy Counsel at Verisign

He also serves as Of Counsel to the IP-centric law firm of Greenberg & Lieberman. Views expressed in this article are solely his own.

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Ian Green  –  Mar 1, 2007 1:12 AM

That is VERY interesting! I have been trying to register an expired domain (that I originally created), and RegisterFly has not released it yet, more than a month after its expiration.

What alarms me even more than RegisterFly maybe trying to profit from the domain name that I created, given the financial problems evident in the article, is the current marketing of “Instant Coupons”, where they are trying to get people to prepay for up to a thousand (.INFO) domains, and then have only 24 hours to get the domain registrations completed!


Instant Coupons are a new way to do quick bulk purchases and save big! Instant Coupons are only valid for 24 hours and are not transferable between accounts. With Instant Coupons you can do a fast bulk purchase of a predefined quantity of domain names. Your pricing is set based on the specific code you purchase. The pricing is valid for a full 24 hours. You can register the minimum amount or MORE at the price you chose. Privacy Protection is also included with each domain name registered.

We can also see what a problem “privacy protection” can be, for domain name registrants who decide to change registrars, not to mention the possibility that the registrar is most interested in getting money for domains that are either not registered at all, or where they have not paid their ICANN registration fees!

William Leibzon  –  Mar 3, 2007 9:53 PM

ICANN just gave an update of this situation: http://www.icann.org/announcements/announcement-02mar07.htm

Of immediate notice is that all expering RF domans would not be deleted but placed on special “do not delete” hold status.

ICANN’s intention appears to be to take over Registerfly’s customer database by legal means (through TRO after they sue RF) and probably turn it over to another registrar (probably tucows since they are backend provider already) for temporary operations while their customers can be officially transitioned after they loose accreditation. I guess this would be the first time we see how ICANN deacreditation process and transitioning of customers of bad registrar to somewhere else works.

BTW, as I mentioned on some mail list this is a big nightmare for large number of internet users - RegisterFly has 1 million domains registered just as a registrar (and probably half as many as ENOM reseller)! I hope this gets resolved well and soon for them all and if not we’ll see USG (and what is likely worse for all of us ITU as well) take notice and raise questions as to if ICANN system really works.

Daniel Laizure  –  Apr 3, 2007 10:52 PM

William Leibzon please contact me a 6508874330 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Erez Rubinstein  –  Jun 2, 2007 6:22 PM

How to save and moved your registerfly domains including protected domains:
How to moved your registerfly domains including protected domains before they will lost .

RegisterFly will not be a domain reseller in march 2007, and all your domain there is in risk of losing, spicily whois protected domains !.

so how to save your domain:

1. Create A New Register Fly Account.
2. Login into the Old RegisterFly Account.
3. Click on Manage Domains
4. Click A Domain Name
5. Click On Change Ownership
6. Click On “Push your names to another user”
7. Click Continue
8. Enter The User ID of The New RegisterFly Account
9. Verify The User ID of The New RegisterFly Account is Correct
10. Click Continue
11. Select Each Domain Name to Push
12. Check the Check Box Marked “Change the Whois/Contact info on the names being pushed”
*** Check This Box Only if your Domains are Showing ProtectFly Information on a Whois Database, If it’s Showing your Real Information with Working Email Then Continue Without Checking the Check Box ***
13. Login into Your New RegisterFly Account, Your Recently Transferred Domains Should Be All Unlocked.
14. Click Change Whois Information And Get Authorization Code for Each Domain.
15. Wait about 2 Days until changes are updated to the world.
15. Begin Transfer to New Registrar.

also i recommended http://www.domain-host-ssl.com as domain register with very cheap domain names prices.

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