The Registrar Accreditation Agreement should be changed to allow ICANN to step in sooner.

During the months-long saga over Epik, many people have asked, “Where’s ICANN?”

The visible troubles at ICANN began last year with the company failing to pay domain sellers for aftermarket transactions and failing to pay out Masterbucks balances. ICANN plays no role in the aftermarket, and it could do nothing about this. However, it was a red flag that the registrar was in financial distress, and ICANN should have started paying closer attention to the registrar.

But then complaints started about the registrar failing to renew domains when someone paid for renewals. We now know this was because the registrar was behind on payments to registries.

Non-renewal of domains by registrars is something ICANN gets involved with. But in a recap about what it has been doing about Epik that ICANN published Friday, the organization noted that this situation doesn’t necessarily violate the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA). It only violates the RAA if the domain has expired and the registrant is at risk of losing the domain:

In almost 70 percent of the complaints received, the gTLD domain names were not yet expired. Therefore, Epik had not yet violated RAA or ERRP requirements by not renewing them.

This caught me off guard. According to the RAA, a domain name registrar doesn’t have to renew your domain immediately upon receiving your payment for renewal. As long as it does so before the domain expires, it complies with the RAA. I think this should be changed. Domains should be renewed immediately, if not within 24 hours or so.

ICANN says it has been monitoring the situation at Epik and ensuring the registrar was escrowing ownership data, which would be critical if the registrar shut down.

Next up in the ICANN process is approval or denial of the change of control of the registrar. A company with unknown backers stepped in to buy the company at the last minute. But we don’t know anything about the buyers.

Post link: Epik shows gap in RAA, ICANN Compliance

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