Answer: a (legal in the UK) betting site apparently owned by BSkyB that is temporarily suspended as a result of ICANN’s new Registrar agreement. As has been widely discussed in industry circles this morning, and reported on a number of other blogs, this is the first site of note that has fallen victim to the new 15 day Whois verification policy required by Registrars that have signed the new RAA. One can see what the placeholder page looked like here.
It shouldn’t be surprising this happened. Whois verification is a noble effort with a challenging landscape to navigate. In this case, the Whois email goes to a generic support email address, at the registrar software provider, behind the retail registrar front end. Not exactly the recipe for fast response. This is going to happen a lot.
This should serve as a warning for everyone to audit the Whois contact information on all their domain names, or at least those that they care about. DNS can take up to 48 hours to propagate, as noted clearly on the placeholder page, which means it’s not as easy as just ‘turning it back on.’ Imagine if this site had gone down the day before the FA Cup!
One can imagine these are probably the first three responses of a typical site visitor:
- “What happened to my betting site?”
- Who is 123 Reg?
- What is ICANN?
So, this will be significant publicity for Registrars and ICANN. Free advertising if you will. This could be the single biggest marketing program impact, at the internet user level, that ICANN has ever had, and I mean that seriously. Imagine the branding impressions ICANN will get if a Top 100 internet site gets suspended. At a minimum, given the number of registrants that don’t have accurate Whois or a workable response mechanism, we may see pages like this a lot.
But that doesn’t mean this is a horribly misdirected effort. Enforcing accurate Whois data is certainly something DomainTools supports. But it’s a brand new program, wading into a very muddy field. As a result, we have to expect a painful learning curve. Hopefully this episode for BSkyB will spur other individuals and organizations to take a few minutes to audit their Whois data.
Category: Domain Industry