News and Updates

Telecom Heroics in Somalia

Domain industry news - 9 hours 1 min ago

Internet service in and around Mogadishu, Somalia suffered a crippling blow recently as the East African Submarine System (EASSy) cable, which provides service to the area, was cut by the anchor of a passing ship. The government of Somalia estimated that the impact of the submarine cable cut was US$10 million per day and detained the MSC Alice, the cargo vessel that reportedly caused the damage.

The cable was repaired on 17 July. The incident is the latest in a series of recent submarine cable breaks (see Nigeria, Ecuador, Congo-Brazzaville and Vietnam) that remind us how dependent much of the world remains on a limited set of physical connections which maintain connectivity to the global Internet.

Internet in Mogadishu

West Indian Ocean Cable Company together with local partner Dalkom Somalia, brought the first broadband cable to the troubled horn of Africa via the East Africa submarine cable system. (Video source: CGTN Africa)The story of how high-speed Internet service came to Mogadishu is nothing short of remarkable. It involved Somali telecommunications personnel staring down the threat of a local terrorist group (Al-Shabaab) in order to establish Somalia's first submarine cable connection. This submarine cable link would be vital if Mogadishu were to have any hope of improving its local economy and ending decades of violence and hunger. However, in January 2014, Al-Shabaab announced a prohibition against 'mobile Internet service' and 'fiber optic cables' stating,

Any individual or company that is found not following the order will be considered to be working with the enemy and they will be dealt with in accordance with Sharia law.

The government of Somalia urged its telecoms not to comply with the Al-Shabaab ban. Then in February 2014, technicians from Somalia's largest operator Hormuud Telecom were forced at gunpoint by Al-Shabaab militants to disable their mobile Internet service.

At that time, Internet service in Mogadishu was entirely reliant on bulk satellite service, which has limited capacity and suffers from high latency when compared to submarine cable or terrestrial fiber-based service. Liquid Telecom's terrestrial service to Mogadishu wouldn't become active until December 2014 and the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland in the northern part of the country use terrestrial connections to Djibouti for international access.

Despite the threats from Al-Shabaab, Hormuud Telecom elected to press ahead with its planned activation of new service via submarine cable that would be crucial for the development of Mogadishu's economy.

Source: "Telecom companies in #Somalia spent millions on fiber optic internet service and have no plans to slow down despite #Shabab ban".

— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) January 22, 2014The graphic below shows a dramatic drop in latencies as Hormuud Telecom shifted its transit from satellite to submarine cable. Hormuud passed traffic across the cable for a little more than an hour on 18 February 2014, starting at 21:05 UTC. It then shifted traffic again at 20:07 UTC on 20 February for about 12 hours before committing to the new cable for good at 17:17 UTC on 21 February.

Immediately following the activation, I drafted a blog post (as I had done in the cases of Cuba and Crimea) heralding the EASSy subsea cable activation in Mogadishu as a great milestone for the troubled region. However, at the request of the leadership of WIOCC, the company that owns the EASSy cable, we refrained from publication. The primary concern at the time was the safety of the hostages Al-Shabaab had recently taken when they raided a Hormuud Telecom office in the Jilib district. We agreed not to publish the blog post so as not to draw additional publicity to Hormuud's defiance of Al-Shabaab, which could have put those Hormuud employees at risk. Now, 3.5 years later, the fact that telecoms in Somalia use the EASSy cable to connect is no secret.

January 2017 Outage

Somalia held a presidential election earlier this year, and as the candidates were getting ready for their first nationally televised debate, the country's primary link to the global Internet went out. Many Somalis were understandably concerned:

Questions as internet stalls on the day of Somalia’s first presidential debate @DalsanFM https://t.co/neb78hTH4L #unacceptable @nabadonline
— ali.j.jira (@alijira) January 31, 2017

Internet blackout in Mogadishu shatters illusion of freedom during the presidential election in Somalia. — Bile Abdisalam (@BileAbdisalam) January 31, 2017


#Somalia's first presidential debate failed due to internet blackout in #Mogadishu #Pressconference
— Mohamed Ali (@MohamedAlimas) January 31, 2017

However, despite its tremendously unfortunate timing, this Internet outage was due to emergency downtime on the EASSy cable which was needed to repair a cable break that occurred the previous week near Madagascar (which we reported on here). Regardless, 12 presidential candidates walked out on the debate believing the outage was a political dirty trick.

The following graphics depict how this outage impacted WIOCC service into Mogadishu as well as Mozambique.

Recent Cable Cut

At 17:47 UTC on 24 June 2017, the spur from the EASSy cable leading to Mogadishu was severed by a passing ship — not an uncommon occurrence according to the International Cable Protection Committee, an advocacy group whose aim is "to protect the world's submarine cables."

The long awaited ship has just docked at the fault point of fiber optic cable to fix the problem. Hopefully Somalia w get internet soon. pic.twitter.com/6afOSOgF2n

— Ilyas Ahmed (@IlyasAbukar) July 12, 2017

As illustrated in the graphic below, the loss of EASSy caused Hormuud to revert to medium-earth orbit satellite operator O3b and, to a lesser degree, Liquid Telecom out of Kenya. As we have noted in the past, O3b enjoys a latency advantage over traditional geostationary satellite service; however, a satellite link cannot replace the considerable capacity lost due to a submarine cable cut. As a result, during the cable outage, there were widespread connectivity problems in Mogadishu.

Conclusion

A couple of months after the EASSy cable went live in 2014, BBC reported on the 'culture shock' sweeping Mogadishu due to the introduction of high-speed Internet service. Its absence informs us of the value the EASSy cable brings the Mogadishu economy: $10 million/day.

Presently, Mogadishu is lauded as one of the fastest growing cities in the world and is enjoying a resurgent economy primarily due to the withdrawal of Al-Shabaab but also due to improved telecommunication services, the lifeblood of a modern economy. If it wasn't for the heroic work of the dedicated telecommunications professionals in Mogadishu in 2013 and 2014, this service could have never been established.

This article was originally published on Dyn's weblog.

Written by Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis at Dyn

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A Look at RFC8200 Which Officially Made IPv6 an Internet Standard

Domain industry news - 10 hours 18 min ago

The IETF published RFC8200 last week, which officially makes IPv6 an Internet Standard. While this move was a long time coming — IPv6 has now reached about 20% deployment — a more interesting question is: what has changed since RFC2460, which was a draft standard, was published in 2013? After all, the point of moving from the experimental to the draft standard to the internet standard states is to learn more about the protocol as it operates on the wire, and to make changes to improve deployability and performance.

Where would you look to determine what these changes might be? The IETF draft tracker tool, of course. If you look at the data tracker page for RFC8200, you will find a tab called history. From there, you have the option of looking at the revision differences, as shown below.

When you click on the Wdiff button, you will see something like this —

In this case, I went back to the original version of the RFC2460bis draft (which just means the draft was designed to replace RFC2460). There are earlier versions of this draft from before it was accepted as a working group document, but even this comparison should give you some idea of the major changes between the original document and the new document that replaces it. If you want a more complete diff, you will need to download the documents and run a diff in a tool like Atom or Notepad++.

Looking through the diffs, the major changes from the earliest 2015 version and the current 2017 version are in the area of extension headers.

First, according to section 4 of the new RFC, "the first one that is not an extension header [IANA-EH] indicates that the next item in the packet is the corresponding upper-layer header." While older revisions of IPv6 actually carried a TLV that essentially said "the next header is TCP, and it begins in X octets," the new revision assumes that if a header is reached that does not fit into the number range of an extension header indicates the next header is an upper layer protocol header.

What if you want to format a packet that is carrying no upper layer protocol? A new extension header is defined in section 4.7 of the new RFC for just this purpose. An implementation can end the chain of extension headers with a no next header extension header, which effectively tells the receiver to stop processing the packet. This allows you to form an IPv6 packet that carries only headers and extension headers, and no actual data.

Second, the way the extension headers are processed has been changed. In fact, this is probably the most far reaching change in the document from 2015 to the currently published version. Three specific changes have taken place here —

  • Extension headers are not to be modified in any way by intermediate nodes (normally known as routers). This not only rules out fragmentation, but any modification of any extension header, including hop-by-hop headers. This is considered in the main body of section 4, before the beginning of the first subsection.
  • There is note in this same area that changes the default behavior of intermediate nodes towards hop-by-hop headers. In RFC2460, each node was required to examine and process any hop-by-hop headers in the packet. In the newly published standard, intermediate nodes are only expected to examine these headers if they are configured to do so. Implementations cannot expect intermediate nodes to examine, or act on, hop-by-hop headers.
  • In section 4.8, there are several paragraphs pointing out that because of these changes, no new extension headers will be defined without strong justification. While the text is in lower case (which generally means it is not "binding" on compliant implementations), a note here says: "New extension headers that require hop-by-hop behavior must not be defined..."

Instead of new extension headers, the new RFC recommends that any extensions be placed into Destination Headers, which are only processed by the destination. This recommendation is towards the bottom of section 6.8.

There are also a good number of changes in the fragmentation section, but these appear (primarily) to be changes in the way the text is organized. The basic concept — that fragmentation can only be performed by the originating host — has not been changed.

While it might seem like it took a long time for IPv6 to move from a draft standard to a "real" standard, it takes experience with a protocol to actually understand what it will look like in real deployments, and to work out those little details that make a huge difference in the usefulness of the protocol over the long term. Welcome to Internet Standard status, IPv6.

And now there is no excuse to not deploy IPv6 in your network today.

Written by Russ White, Network Architect at LinkedIn

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.CA Leads ccTLD Assault on This Week's Sales Chart - Canadian Domains Take Top Two Spots

DN Journal - 11 hours 31 min ago
For the second week in a row our all extension Top 20 Domain Sales Chart is led by a non .com domain - actually TWO of them - both Canadian .CA domains.
Categories: News and Updates

New MERGE! Conference Continues to Come Together - Here's the Latest on the October Event in Orlando

DN Journal - Wed, 2017-07-26 18:35
We just got a major update on the new MERGE! conference coming to Orlando in October. The show organizers have been very busy since we last checked in with them.
Categories: News and Updates

Verisign issues statement on .cc/.tv situation in China

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2017-07-26 18:16

Company has submitted applications but domains are not licensed for sale in China.

Last week some registrars in China dropped support for .cc and .tv domain names, both of which are managed by registry company Verisign. This was part of a directive from the Chinese government to suspend sales of a number of domains that have not yet received licenses from the government.

Verisign has a license for .com and .net, so those domains can be sold and hosted in China.

The company just issued a statement about the issue:

Verisign is engaged in discussions with the Chinese government to obtain licenses to provide domain name registry services for .cc, .tv and our Chinese IDNs. We submitted our updated applications in July 2017. We expect to begin to engage in discussions with the Chinese government about our final evaluation and ultimately obtain licenses for .cc, .tv and our IDNs.

Verisign says the domains will still be available through HiChina, Bizcn, Chinasource and 35 Tech while it awaits the government license.


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How Much Should Startups Budget for a Decent Domain Name?

Domain industry news - Wed, 2017-07-26 18:16

Bill Sweetman from NameNinja has released a handy little guide to domain name pricing for startups. While the guide is aimed at businesses starting out, the information around domain name pricing is applicable to anyone who wants to either "upgrade" their online brand or launch a new one.

The guide focusses primarily on .com domain names, but also mentions both ccTLDs, alternative domains and new gTLDs.

As you'd expect the keyword .com names are the ones that fetch the highest prices.

“It’s important for startup founders to have a realistic budget in mind when commencing the naming process and hunt for the matching domain," says Sweetman. "Startups will save themselves a lot of time and stress if they align their name and domain choices with their budget.”

You can download the entire Startup Domain Name Price Guide Infographic here.

Written by Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions

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.VIP gets 75% renewal rate for early registrations

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2017-07-26 16:17

Company tops expectation it set last month.

Last month MMX (Minds + Machines) forecasted that about 70% or more of .VIP domains registered within the first 31 days of general availability last year would be renewed.

A commenter on that post claimed “There is no way it will be 70%”, insinuating it would be less. Now the totals are in and the number is indeed about 70%. 75% of domains registered during this period have been renewed.

This is an incredibly high first-year renewal rate for a new top level domain, especially one dependent on Chinese domain investors who have been scaling back investments lately.

In an announcement today, the company also said sales from H1 2017 won’t be as strong as the peak last year when .VIP launched. MMX didn’t launch any new domains in the first half of this year but will launch .boston later this year. However, it expects to reach breakeven based on renewal revenues covering fixed costs this year.

The company also said it is continuing to complete its “strategic review”, aka discussing selling the company.


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17 domain names end users just bought

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2017-07-26 12:35

From BrokenBrain.com to OutofPlace.com, here are 17 domain names that were acquired by end users over the past week.

Crypto currency domain names remain hot, and one qualifies for our end user list this week. Other end users buying domains include a cow-tagging company, a business that helps you match the color of your carpet to fix bleach stains, and a diet guru.

Lots of domains are still in escrow at Sedo, so there were many more sales for more money that aren’t included in this list.

Here are 17 sales at Sedo that have cleared escrow and are in the hands of end users:

(You can view previous lists like this here.)

DubaiOffPlan.com $7,500 – A company in Dubai that offers “off plan” real estate. I had to look this term up. It basically means real estate that hasn’t been built yet, or pre-construction real estate deals.

MySign.com $6,000 – Dotsoft Technologies, Inc. is a security/SSL company.

AllSync.com €5,000 – AllSync is a cloud storage company.

Evercoin.com $4,500 – The domain appears to have been purchased by a crypto currency exchange called Hazelcoin.

Owlit.com €3,000 – Online research company Owlit bought this domain and forwards it to Owlit.de.

BrokenBrain.com $3,000 – Health and diet expert doctor Mark Hyman, whose company is called UltraWellness.

Smartbow.com $3,000 – Smartbow is in the cow business. Seriously, it sells ear tags for tracking cow herds. It uses the domain name smartbow.at.

ChatRoulette.asia £2,999 – ChatRoulette, which is apparently still a thing.

Averx.com – $2,889 Averon has a mobile identity technology.

DeinSmartHome.com €2,778 – Dein means “your” in German. The buyer operates a site selling cell phones at DeinHandy.com.

BleachSpot.com $2,700 – The company that operates BleachStain.com offering a way to color match your carpet to fix stains from bleach. Oddly enough, I need this service.

Branditos.com €2,500 – Branding company Heyman Brandt DeGelmini.

Akadio.com $2,500 – HDF Group “ensures the sustainable development of HDF (Hierarchical Data Format) technologies and the ongoing accessibility of HDF-stored data”. I can’t figure out what this domain will be used for.

Kalutara.com £2,000 – Minor Hotel Group Limited. Kalutara is a place in Sri Lanka.

MyTheresa.pl €2,000 – Clothing company MyTheresa.com bought another ccTLD matching its brand.

OutofPlace.com $2,000 – Travel blogger Jeb Brooks rebranded from GreenerGrass.com to Out of Place.

LouisianaOnlineMall.com $2,000 – Someone in Louisiana bought this and it’s an online store offering Louisiana-themed merchandise.


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U.S. House Republicans Ask CEO's of Major Tech, Telecom Companies to Testify on Net Neutrality

Domain industry news - Tue, 2017-07-25 21:13

U.S. House Republicans have invited CEOs of major technology and telecommunications companies to weigh in on the net neutrality debate amidst Federal Communications Commission move to repeal the Obama-era rules. Harper Neidig reporting in The Hill: "Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a hearing on Tuesday that he has invited the executives to testify before the panel on September 7 to settle the debate. ... A strong consensus is forming across party lines and across industries that it's time for Congress to call a halt on the back-and-forth and set clear net neutrality ground rules for the internet." Invitations invitations to the chief executives of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix were sent to CEOs of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google parent company Alphabet, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter Communications.

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No One is Immune: Qatar Crisis Started by a Targeted Poli-Cyber Attack

Domain industry news - Tue, 2017-07-25 20:30

The Qatar Crisis started with a targeted Poli-Cyber hack of an unprecedented nature. Its shockwaves and repercussions continue to alter political and business fortunes, directions and paradigms not only in the Gulf region but globally.

Almost everyone around the world is now aware of the this crisis that started early June. By mid July a Washington Post report cited US intelligence officials that the UAE orchestrated hacking of Qatari government sites, sparking regional upheaval that started it all.

The one thing that is 100% certain is that the Qatari government sites and its news agency were hacked. I will address attribution in a future post.

Q: What lessons must be learnt by top business and government decision makers worldwide who don't want something similar happening to them you might ask?

A: NO one is immune, especially when you are targeted by political, ideological, religious or destruction motivated Poli-Cyber terrorist hackers.

Fact: The Qataris had brought in the best brains and bought the best and most expensive cyber security solutions money can buy to defend themselves against cyber attacks. Well, these brains and solutions failed to defend Qatar from a targeted and politically motivated cyber attack.

Also, the Qataris adopted and relied, like many governments and organizations all over the world, on cyber strategies and solutions that were "tried and tested". And the more expensive they were the better they were perceived to be.

Little did they know that these same cyber strategies and solutions they bought have been failing routinely in the last couple of years and on a global and unprecedented scales. A costly lesson that Qatar and the Gulf States will one day measure in the trillions not billions of dollars.

You can read a longer version of this post here.

Written by Khaled Fattal, Group Chairman, The Multilingual Internet Group

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, DDoS, Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Malware, Policy & Regulation

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Shills, Insiders, & Front Runners – 5 Bidding Scandals

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2017-07-25 17:22

Joseph Peterson reviews domain industry auction bidding scandals to bring context to the NameJet issue that blew up last week.

Recently, the domain auction platform NameJet found itself embroiled in a controversy involving “shill” bids. This is by no means the first such scandal to plague our little industry. In fact, at least 4 major auction houses aside from NameJet – and there aren’t many beyond 4 total – have been implicated at one time or another in fishy bidding. Time for a stroll down memory lane!

1. SnapNames – Infamously, SnapNames admitted in 2009 that one of its employees, under the user name “Halvarez”, had been bidding against customers for 4 years. The company’s own analysis indicated that 1 in 20 auctions had been affected, and Halvarez bids contributed 1% of the incremental revenue during that time. Those stats may have been even higher during the first 2 years when Halvarez’s bidding was most concentrated. SnapNames voluntarily paid compensation – with interest.

2. GoDaddy – A year before that story broke, GoDaddy and its then-VP Adam Dicker were embroiled in controversy and bad press surrounding his own insider bidding in their auctions, which he oversaw.  GoDaddy maintained at the time that Dicker did nothing improper, and perhaps he didn’t.  Then again, 7 years after leaving GoDaddy, Adam Dicker was virtually banished from the domainer community amid allegations of misconduct. So domainers will be forgiven for viewing that decade-old GoDaddy incident with suspicion.

Employee alias or celebrity domainer, corporate restitution or denial of culpability, what these 2 old scandals have in common is insider bidding. In both cases, an employee of the auction house would be at fault – not necessarily with the company’s knowledge. Indeed, the Halvarez behavior was contrary to SnapNames’s policy at the time. GoDaddy instituted a policy prohibiting employees from bidding against customers after the fact, 9 years ago, once complaints about Dicker surfaced. That policy remains in effect today.

The present NameJet scandal is unlike those 2 cases because it centers on customer misbehavior rather than employees. NameJet sellers were bidding in their own auctions, in violation of the TOS.  There’s no need to say “allegedly”, despite seller denials, because NameJet itself has officially confirmed this.

Self-bidding isn’t always shill bidding. That depends on the circumstances. It’s easy to imagine bids placed accidentally in bulk or through automation gone awry.  At NameJet, leftover backorders could result in a self-bid. We might even excuse trying to buy back a domain the bidder had lately sold, if we’re charitable (or gullible). Nobody will deny, however, that nefarious shill bidding on the part of sellers has been rampant for years. Really, it occurs at every single domain marketplace – auction house or not – wherever sellers can derive some advantage from fraud.

The NameJet scandal grabs attention for 2 reasons: (1) because of the high-profile sellers alleged or rumored or even hypothetically involved; and (2) the laxity of oversight. Apparently, brother brokers sharing the same last name could both bid in their own and one another’s auctions without NameJet’s system issuing a red flag. Worse still, they could place such questionable bids while receiving headline promotion from NameJet.

Yet this too is not unprecedented. We’ve seen seller shenanigans and marketplace inattention before…

3. Flippa – For many years, people were buying and selling bids for Flippa auctions. They did so in plain sight. At the time, it was common to see Flippa bids for sale on Fiverr. Any 16-year-old could buy a pizza just by selling a few well-placed clicks. The demand for shill bids was so great that some saw it as a viable business in its own right!  In one case I documented, bids were for sale on a website called FlippaBid.com, which wasn’t detected by Flippa despite brazenly infringing the marketplace’s own trademark. Even today, the web is littered with solicitations dating back to this 2011 – 2014 period:

I am looking for someone to bid on my flippa auction can anyone help ?
The auction is due to finish in the hour and i would like to get around the $100 mark
only one bid is required
You will not be required to purchase this auction
The auction finishes withi the hour so i need a bid to be placed rather quickly
thanks

Not exactly shy!

4. NetFleet – Unless you come from the land down under, you won’t have heard of this auction house, which is entirely focused on the .AU market. Nevertheless, it’s worth citing as an example of a company allegedly outbidding its customers. This would have occurred through a kind of “front running”, as I explained in 2015, with the auction house opening up sealed bids from domainers and then pitching the domain to end users based on those confidential amounts. Netfleet blamed a new employee for finding a legacy way of accessing user bids.

Hopefully, these 4 earlier bidding scandals provide some context for the current NameJet controversy. GoDaddy and NetFleet overcame their negative PR by making policy changes (and perhaps by changing management). SnapNames paid restitution. Flippa worked to beef up its policing efforts. NameJet shares Flippa’s problem: seller shills.

Clearly, any solution for NameJet requires detection and enforcement. Policy is toothless without monitoring. At the moment, creating multiple bidding accounts at NameJet is evidently quite simple – even if created consecutively with the same IP address. So it sounds like the company has done little to prevent abuse.

Given the enormous financial incentives to cheat plus the lack of effective regulation, many observers wonder how extensive the shill bids at NameJet have been over the past few years. And, given the lucrative, high-profile partnerships NameJet has formed with some sellers, many are worrying – and some proclaiming confidently without waiting for any evidence – that NameJet would have turned a blind eye to shills. Some domainers, whether resentful of celebrity sellers or suspicious of the establishment, have gleefully leapt to that conclusion.

Corporate conspiracies are infrequent, whereas seller shills are a dime a dozen. Mainly, that’s because customers outnumber staff. Also, employees have more to lose (by getting fired) than sellers do. Domainers, once banned from 1 marketplace, can simply go elsewhere or resume the same scam after putting on a false mustache. Companies might encourage employees to bid against customers, as the NetFleet case illustrates. Theoretically, an auction house might even program bots to place bids. But systematic fraud, once uncovered, is too obviously damning to be patched up; and for a publicly traded company this could prove catastrophic. Anything is possible, but we only need seller shills – not corporate collusion – to explain the facts so far.

Sadly, shill bids are part of domainer culture. When I first joined the forums years ago, I remember being asked by people left and right – people I’d only just met – to place sub-reserve bids in their Flippa auctions.

Shilling is so rife that we discuss it openly. In a recent live auction event, I told the person at my elbow that the auction we were both watching, which was just about to start, would stop 1 bid shy of its gigantic reserve price; and it did. Knowing the owner and the domain’s history, this was an easy prediction to make. Of course, that domain hasn’t been sold since.

Whether blatant or borderline, shill bidding is a daily occurrence in the domain industry. That’s not to say everybody does it. Most don’t. And it’s not to say the problem should go unaddressed. But it does mean we can’t sit back and rely on marketplaces to eliminate fraud. Participating in a largely unregulated domain market, as all of us do, requires keeping one’s eyes open.


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CAICT Holds ICANN 59 China Internet Community Readout Session

Domain industry news - Tue, 2017-07-25 16:17

This report was co-authored by Zhaohan Li and Liu Yu. Intern Zhang Duo also contributed to this article.

In afternoon of 14th July, the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) and ICANN Beijing Engagement Center jointly held the ICANN 59 China Internet Community Readout Session. Mr. Zhang Ya, Deputy Director of Information and Communication Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), made his presence and gave opening remarks on the meeting. Over 40 representatives from the Cyberspace Administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, domain name registries and registrars, industrial organizations, institutes and universities participated in the seminar. The attendants introduced the developments of the ICANN 59 Johannesburg Meeting held from June 26 to 29 and further discussed the ICANN affairs and hot topics on the meeting. Paul Wilson, Director General of the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC), and Duncan Macintosh, President of the APNIC Foundation, were invited to attend the meeting and exchanged views with members of the Chinese community on Internet governance issues.

ICANN 59 China Internet Community Readout Session

On the meeting, Mr. Zhang Jianchuan, Director of the ICANN Beijing engagement Center, outlined the overall situation of the 59th meeting. Guo Feng, Vice Chair of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) introduced the progress of GAC meetings and participation in Empowered Community. Other attendants, including Chu Nan from CNNIC, Liu Limei from CONAC, Kan Kaili, from At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC), and Professor from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Pam Little from Alibaba Cloud, Tan Yaling from Teleinfo, introduced the progresses of topics including the ICANN country code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO), work stream 2 of CCWG-Accountability, the next Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) policy progress and community elections in new gTLD, the impact of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on domain name services, and names and trademark rights protection, and shared their feelings during ICANN 59.

Paul Wilson, Director General of APNICSome of the rough consensuses include: 1. Communities have begun to participate in Empowered Community (EC), but how could EC improve its operation is yet to be observed; 2. Extension of the CCWG WS2 timeline has been basically confirmed; 3. The next GNSO policy progress may be postponed after 2020 due to relevant reviews and policies; 4. The Chinese community should participate actively in GNSO, striving for their own interests and expanding the impact; 5. Carry out research on the impact of GDPR on domain name service compliance and find feasible solutions for the Chinese community. In addition, Song Linjian from the Worldwide Interconnection and Yao Jiankang from the CNNIC shared their experiences about the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) and KSK rollover. The whole seminar was moderated by Liu Yue from CAICT.

During the session, Paul Wilson appreciated the contributions of the Chinese community to ICANN affairs and looked forward to cooperation with more Chinese institutions for facilitating the Internet governance and development within the Asia-Pacific region. Paul Wilson also pointed out that the Asia-Pacific region encompasses a wide range of cultures due to its broad area span, and ICANN should continue to improve its diversity and enhance the representation of Asia-Pacific region. Asian countries should also take full advantage of the community and industry’s initiative, participate more in ICANN affairs and strive for greater benefits for their own users — APNIC will offer its support as usual. Duncan Macintosh introduced the APNIC Foundation and hoped to have further communications with the Chinese community to collaborate on projects.

Representatives all agreed that the Chinese community needed to strengthen communication and have further coordination, enhance the initiative and participation in depth, expand the Chinese community’s participation in ICANN activities and the mass base, as well as have further cooperation with other relevant departments, so as to better solve the Internet governance related issues, promote the development of China's Internet domain name industry jointly and enhance the Chinese community's voice and influence.

Written by Zhaohan LI

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More under: DNS, DNS Security, Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services

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Net Donuts purchase price for Rightside and details of their registry agreement

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2017-07-25 15:26

SEC filings show valuation of Rightside business and disclose deal value of registry services.

There are a couple interesting tidbits in SEC filings for Donuts acquisition of Rightside (NASDAQ:NAME) that are worth sharing as they could be important to companies in the domain name industry.

The first involves how much Donuts is actually paying for Rightside’s assets. The purchase price is $213 but Rightside has a lot of cash on hand after selling Enom and its half of NameJet to Tucows earlier this year. In fact, a draft of the acquisition agreement required Rightside to have $83 million of cash in hand at the expiration of the offer. While that number might have been negotiated again later, its inclusion in the tender statement suggests that’s about what the final number will be.

That means Donuts’ actual outlay for Rightside’s assets net of cash is about $130 million excluding deal costs of roughly $10 million. So the registry business (40 TLDs plus registry services), Name.com and the Aftermarket business (about 300k domain names and a parking business) were valued at $130 million.

The other figure is much smaller but might be relevant to domain registries. During the first five months of this year, Donuts paid Rightside $0.8 million for Rightside providing registry services for Donuts 200 top level domains. In the past couple of years the total deal value for this registry services agreement has been less than 1% of revenue, so likely in line with under $2 million per year.

Of course, Rightside and Donuts have always had a unique relationship given their partnership on new TLDs. Also, no other new TLD company has the scale of Donuts when it comes to number of TLDs. Still, this figure could give some indication of the current value of providing technical registry services.

By the way, Name.com’s wholesale fees paid to Donuts for selling Donuts new TLDs in the first five months of the year came in at $0.7 million.


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Categories: News and Updates

Hitting the Sweetman Spot: How Much Should a Startup Expect to Pay for the Domain They Desire?

DN Journal - Mon, 2017-07-24 21:05
Most domain pros know what kind of price ranges different kinds of domain names fall into but most buyers have no idea. Name Ninja's Bill Sweetman wants to change that.
Categories: News and Updates

Domain investor Steve Kaziyev – DNW Podcast #145

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2017-07-24 15:30

Learn what this domain investor is doing to buy and sell domain names.

Like many domain investors, Steven Kaziyev was introduced to domain names while researching names for his non-domain business. Now he owns a strong portfolio of thousands of domains across mortgage, real estate, generics, brandables and other categories. Steve discusses how he acquires domain names and how he’s selling them now, including using BrandBucket. Learn what he’s doing for domain sales landing pages and how he thinks you can generate the most leads for your domains, as well as how to handle negotiations. We also discuss next month’s Name Summit event in NYC. Also: NameJet shills, Afternic markups, GoDaddy sells, .Amazon and trolling Trump.

Subscribe via iTunes to listen to the Domain Name Wire podcast on your iPhone or iPad, view on Google Play Music, or click play below or download to begin listening. (Listen to previous podcasts here.)


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The IPv4 Market - Looking Back and Forward

Domain industry news - Mon, 2017-07-24 15:28

In September 2015, the free pool of IPv4 numbers available through the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) ran dry. In 2016, the IPv4 market was the only reliable source of IPv4 numbers, globally, and the pattern of activity changed dramatically. So far in 2017, we have seen the trends in the last half of 2016 continue.

Throughout 2015, IPv4 transactions were trending steadily upward and the volume of transferred numbers had reached an all time high as several /8 holders sold off their excess supply of IPv4 numbers to large buyers with available liquidity to purchase large amounts of address space. In 2016, the monthly rate of transactions climbed sharply to nearly double the average monthly number of transactions in Q4 2015. The volume of transferred numbers took a different turn. Nearly 40 million IPv4 numbers were transferred via the ARIN transfer approval process in 2015. In 2016, that number dropped by nearly 50%, to just over 20.75 million.

North American IPv4 Market Activity in 2016 – In the latter half of 2016, the volume of numbers transferred grew from just shy of 5.8 million numbers in the first half of 2016 to nearly 15 million numbers in the last 6 months of 2016 (left chart). Expanding the view to all purchases in 2016, a full 50% of all numbers were transferred as /16 blocks. The chart on the right shows that /16 block trades produced more transferred numbers in 2016 than any other block size. (Click to Enlarge)

There are several key explanations for the market shift. One, the depletion of large block supply. Whereas 14 /12+ (1,048,576 numbers) blocks transferred via the ARIN transfer approval process in 2015, only 3 such blocks were transferred in 2016. Also, the decision by some large block holders either to sell their blocks in smaller sizes to realize higher unit prices or hold off entering the market altogether until large block pricing improved.

Market indicators show that the higher trading volumes in 2016 are holding steady in 2017, both in the ARIN domestic market and in the InterRIR market where transfers more than doubled in part due to RIPE NCC's inter-RIR transfer policy which was now in full swing. With hints that AFRINIC and LACNIC may open their doors to InterRIR transfers, we expect this number to grow.

We also expect more supply to enter the market — but not necessarily in the volumes we experienced in 2015. In the first half of 2016, just 5.8 million numbers were transferred. That number more than doubled to nearly 15 million numbers in the last half of the year as prices have risen, sellers have been able to take advantage of more flexible contract structures that allow them to fund renumbering projects, and large buyers are more willing to accept numbers over a more flexible and extended schedule and in smaller block sizes. In 2016, the /16 (65,536 numbers) was a dominant block size in the market, accounting for 50% of all numbers transferred.

As in 2015, pricing trends have continued to mirror the shift in supply and demand. Pricing was at its lowest in Q1 2015, when there was a glut of supply in the marketplace. With tightening of supply in 2016, prices escalated. The average price of small to mid-size blocks grew by just over 30%. Large block pricing nearly doubled, substantially narrowing the gap between small and large block pricing. We expect prices to escalate further as we head toward the last half of 2017.

IPv6 migration has not yet materially impacted the IPv4 marketplace. Tech companies continue to invest in their IPv4 infrastructure while building out their IPv6 network, making some significant IPv4 purchases to meet their needs. Companies appear to be settling into their reliance on the IPv4 market, at least over the next 2-3 years, to bridge the gap between IPv4 and IPv6 as companies recognize that IPv6 migration will happen eventually but not soon enough.

A full analysis of the IPv4 market, with additional data, can be found in Avenue4's 2016 Annual State of the Market Report.

Written by Janine Goodman, Vice President and Co-founder at Avenue4

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More under: IP Addressing, IPv6

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No Time Bar, No Laches under the UDRP

Domain industry news - Mon, 2017-07-24 15:13

Two Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) decisions posted this month involved domain names registered 20 and 21 years ago, David Duchovny v. Alberta Hot Rods c/o Jeff Burgar, FA1706001734414 (Forum July 4, 2017) (<davidduchovny.com>, 21 years) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Ravindra Patel, gbe, D2017-0807 (WIPO July 6, 2017) (<bankwest.com>) (20 years). Complainants prevailed in both cases. The domain names stand out as being the oldest to have been found registered in bad faith, and transferred. Readers unfamiliar with the UDRP may be surprised to learn there is no time bar for making a cybersquatting claim, and laches is not a defense.

While David Duchovny and Commonwealth Bank are similar in filing complaints for long-held domain names, Complainants' circumstances are strikingly dissimilar (celebrity name versus a name composed of two dictionary words and parties located on different continents). While the first decision is understandable, the second is questionable.

The "no time bar/no laches" limitation which is one of the core principles of the UDRP is consistent with WIPO's recommendations for the proposed administrative procedure that became the UDRP. The WIPO Final Report (1999), Paragraph 197 stated that "a time bar to the bringing of claims in respect of domain names (for example, a bar on claims where the domain name registration has been unchallenged for a designated period of years) should not be introduced." Then, in Paragraph 199, "time bar" is expressly endorsed: "It is not recommended that claims under the administrative procedure be subject to a time limitation.” (Italics in original).

While the recommendation did not achieve written recognition in the Policy Panels quickly enshrined it in their decisions: "[there is] no room for general equitable doctrines under the Policy such as would be possessed by Courts in common law jurisdictions." Edmunds.com, Inc. v. Ult. Search Inc., D2001-1319 (WIPO February 1, 2002). The Panels in David Duchovny and Commonwealth Bank make the same point: "This Panel lacks equitable powers; therefore, even a delay of 21 years does not implicate laches" and "Panels have . . . declined to specifically adopt concepts such as laches or its equivalent in UDRP cases."

Whatever advantage complainants may appear to gain by the rejection of any time limitation or laches is offset in two ways: by respondents' rebuttal evidence (which if there is any, would have to be countered) and by the evidentiary demands on complainant for proving bad faith. The specific antidote to complainants sleeping on their rights is expressly set forth in Paragraph 4(c)(i) of the Policy; that is, if in the long interval before complainant wakes up a respondent accrues rights in the domain name, the complaint must be denied.

It will be noticed that the 4(c)(i) defense incorporates a key element of laches, namely detrimental reliance, so that while laches is ostensibly rejected it is present through the back door. Paragraph 4(a)(iii) also plays a role because the passage of time is a black hole; all evidence is lost if not maintained, so that even if respondent is found to lack rights or legitimate interests, if complainant cannot marshal evidence of bad faith registration the domain name must remain with respondent.

Proving cybersquatting of marks predating domain name registration is easier the closer in time between the registration and filing the complaint. It becomes increasingly difficult the longer complainant waits, particularly for weak marks (as opposed to celebrities' strong marks ). When complainants lose, the inapplicability of laches is no help to them and should be no hindrance to respondents; the evidentiary problem lies in complainant's inability to marshal the necessary evidence.

The database of complainants losing for lack of evidence is full of these disputes. The Sinclair Group Nevada, LLC v. behnam tabrizi, FA1606001679802 (Forum August 3, 2016) (<rapidtransformation.com>, 7 years. Complaint dismissed). The reverse is also true. Unlawful registrations will be cancelled or transferred regardless the length respondents have held them. Coles Pen Company Limited v. Cole, Samantha / Coles of London, FA1702001717458 (Forum March 30, 2017) (<pen heaven.com>. 8 years). Complainants prevail when the evidence dictates that result, and fail if it doesn't. Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève v. Aydin Karadeniz, D2016-1620 (WIPO October 10, 2016) (<hug.com>, <hug.net>, and <hug.org>. Respondent acquired the domain names for a business that never developed. Complaint dismissed).

While there is no time bar, delay has consequences. As Panels were rejecting laches they were developing a nuanced approach that took into account the totality of circumstances. Bosco Prod., Inc. v. Bosco email Servs., FA 94828 (Nat. Arb. Forum June 29, 2000) (<bosco.com>) for "vanity e-mail" service. The Panel held that "[w]ithout determining if the passage of considerable time would alone bar Complainant from relief in this proceeding, the Panel notes that Complainant does not explain why it has waited nearly four years to try and resolve the domain name dispute"; Novartis AG v. Name Administration Inc. (BVI), FA1403001548210 (Nat. Arb. Forum April 24, 2014) (<clearcare.com>). "It appears to the Panel that any business disruption or confusion suffered by Complainant as a result of Respondent's domain name registration was either non-existent or de minimis, else Complainant would have taken action in a more timely fashion."

Returning to <davidduchovny.com> and <bankwest.com>, Doug Isenberg examined the David Duchovny decision in an informative essay recently published here in CircleID. Mr. Isenberg properly points out that "the 21-year delay could have undermined Duchovny's case." It didn't because in large part "David Duchovny" (as a mark) has a single source. That is not true of marks composed of generic elements (even though combined they may be distinctive). The Panel certainly ticked off Complainant's evidentiary problems in pointing out there was no evidence of harm: "registration alone of the disputed domain name for 21 years [did not cause] any Internet users to be confused as to the source or origin of any goods or services and there were certainly no lost profits or loss of business or goodwill."

Nevertheless, Mr. Duchovny prevailed on his strong mark because Respondent's position (even had it not defaulted in appearance) was indefensible under any Paragraph 4(c) defenses. (This may not have been true if the domain name had been <duchovny.com> assuming it is a well represented surname). In large measure Respondent lost because celebrities are in a class by themselves when it comes to having their names protected under the UDRP (the Bruce Springsteen decision referred to by Mr. Isenberg was in fact repudiated in Kevin Spacey v. Alberta Hot Rods, FA0205000114437 (Nat. Arb. Forum August 1, 2002) by the presiding panelist in the earlier case.)

Notwithstanding "no lost profits or loss of business or goodwill" the Panel found that the evidence pointed to bad faith registration: "Although no one would claim that the DAVID DUCHOVNY mark, in 1996, was as famous as GOOGLE is today, given the demonstrated notoriety of David Duchovny in 1996 and the totality of the circumstances, the Panel finds that Respondent had actual knowledge of Complainant's mark prior to the registration of the disputed domain name." Knowledge (that couldn't plausibly be denied) and celebrity were the key factors.

No one would say that combining two dictionary words makes for a strong mark (exceptions always excluded) or that knowledge could not plausibly be denied. Herein lies the drama in Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Since Respondent held <bankwest.com> passively and failed to explain the circumstances for registering the domain name Complainant succeeded on its prima facie case that Respondent lacked rights or legitimate interests in it, but that doesn't get a complainant to bad faith. Knowledge is an issue for the third, not the second limb of the Policy, and it's complainant's burden to prove.

Bad faith presupposes (requires proof of) respondent registered the domain name with knowledge of complainant and its mark. Since there was no direct evidence of knowledge it had to be found circumstantially, by inference. Separate from the passage of time in Commonwealth Bank is that Complainant is located in Australia and Respondent is an individual located in the United States, in New Jersey. In determining that such evidence as there was after 20 years supported inferences of bad faith, it can be argued that the Panel put his finger on the scale in Complainant's favor.

Drawing inferences, of course, is a valuable tool, but shifting the burden to Respondent to come forward with rebuttal evidence under the third limb is questionable. The principal fact from which the Panel drew its inference was Respondent holding the domain name passively. The Panel's chain of reasoning is as follows:

[T]he entire Response provides absolutely no information whatsoever about the Respondent other than to confirm he is resident in New Jersey. The Panel is not told whether he [Respondent] is in business and if so what that business is, whether or not he deals in domain names, whether this is the only domain name he owns, why and how he decided to register it, or indeed any other of the no doubt numerous factors which would bear on whether or not the Respondent acted in bad faith.

Using this reasoning as leverage the Panel then conjectured that

It would have been an entirely straightforward matter for the Respondent to say (hypothetically), with appropriate evidence 'I had never heard of the Complainant when I registered the Disputed Domain Name' and 'this was part of my strategy of registering names involving the word "bank" combined with a geographic identifier and I also registered (say) banknorth.com, banksouth.com, and bankeast.com.'

In other words, Respondent is held liable as a cybersquatter for its silence: "Given that the Respondent is represented the Panel is left concluding that this silence on such critical issues is not simply inadvertent but represents a deliberate decision." For a Panel to draw these inferences and then fault respondent (and its counsel) for failing to address factual issues raised only conjecturally is extraordinary. (The Panel in Duchovny also draw inferences but they were anchored to specific facts). The problem is not the logic, the algorithmic steps make perfect sense, but its application. It exceeds a Panel's authority under the UDRP.

This is not to say that in a plenary action, after all the evidence is marshaled and arguments made that Commonwealth Bank would not prevail, but the UDRP as a summary proceeding is not the right venue. Nevertheless, the Panel's finding that respondents must answer to the particular inferences it identified serves a useful purpose as a warning to them and their counsel: where they control the facts relating to their acquisitions of domain names, silence will be held against them. And, equally important, respondents should not rely on a laches defense as though it is dispositive (which Respondent did in Commonwealth Bank). Even though some Panels have embraced the defense, it's not a good defensive strategy.

Written by Gerald M. Levine, Intellectual Property, Arbitrator/Mediator at Levine Samuel LLP

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More under: Cybersquatting, Domain Names, UDRP

Categories: News and Updates

Name Ninja creates price guide to help end user domain buyers

Domain Name Wire - Mon, 2017-07-24 14:00

Guidelines help startup entrepreneurs understand how much a domain name costs on the aftermarket.

Educating end users about the value of domain names is a regular challenge for domain name investors. So it’s helpful to have domain buyer broker Name Ninja issue guidelines that domain owners can refer to.

Name Ninja’s pricing guidelines are designed for startups looking to acquire a domain for their business but can apply to established businesses as well. It sets reasonable price expectations for popular types of domains such as one-word .com, two-word .com, and invented names in .com.

I’m sure Name Ninja founder Bill Sweetman is frequently contacted by people who want to buy a one-word .com for their business but haven’t set aside enough money. This guide (pictured below) will help set expectations. I will definitely refer to it when I’m negotiating to sell one of my domains.

Of course, there are will always be exceptions to each price range, but this is a great overview.


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'Not the Best Time' for Proposed Russia-U.S. Cyber Unit, Says NSA Chief

Domain industry news - Sun, 2017-07-23 18:42

NSA chief, Mike Rogers during the annual Aspen Security Forum on Saturday, shunned the proposed Russia-U.S. cyber unit, stating "I would argue now is probably not the best time to be doing this." From a report in Reuters: "National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers on Saturday rebuffed the prospect for a U.S.-Russia cyber unit, a proposal which has been greeted with incredulity by several senior U.S. lawmakers and which President Donald Trump himself appeared to back down from after initially indicating interest. ... Trump said earlier this month that he had discussed the idea of creating such a group with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg."

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Here’s what NameJet is doing about shill bidding

Domain Name Wire - Sat, 2017-07-22 00:11

Company releases statement including changes it is making.

Domain name auction site NameJet has posted an update about allegations of shill bidding and what it’s doing about it. You can read the full statement here, and here’s a summary:

1. NameJet has suspended some accounts that were bidding on their own domains.

2. The company made a technical change to prevent bidders from being able to bid on their own domains. (It’s surprising this was ever a possibility.)

3. It’s creating an activity tracking system to detect shill bidding.

4. It has created a dedicated email address (report_abuse at namejet.com) for people to report questionable activity.

5. It is suspending the “next bid wins” practice whereby sellers were able to lower their reserve so that the next bidder would win. This seems to be more of a perception issue than an actual shill bidding issue.

I think these are good steps in the right direction. I’d also suggest verifying ownership of domains before they can be listed and only letting the owner list domains, not a third party. Letting a third party list domains opens the system to abuse.


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The post Here’s what NameJet is doing about shill bidding appeared first on Domain Name Wire | Domain Name News & Views.

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