The following draft was originally written by Beau Brendler.


To: ALAC and ICANN Board
From: North American Regional At-Large Organization (NARALO)
Subject: Pre-registration of TLDs

The NARALO observes that at least one ICANN-accredited registrar, United Domains, is offering what it calls "Free nTLD pre-registration" (see in anticipation of the availability of some top-level domains by its own estimated date of October 2012.

While United Domains says the pre-registration service is free and non-binding, the NARALO is concerned the offer of such a service could create artificial demand which could then be used to justify additional rounds of TLD creation and release, or might serve to confuse consumers.

The NARALO wishes to remind ICANN that approximately 10 years ago, the announcement of pre-registration for new top-level domains (such as .aero, .coop and so-on) prompted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to issue a consumer alert ( that said, in part, "Some registration services are guaranteeing new top level domain names or promising preferential treatment in the registration process....

"But, the agency cautions, these offers may be misleading.
"The FTC advises consumers to protect themselves by:
...Avoiding any domain name pre-registration service that guarantees particular top level domain names or preferential treatment in the assignment of new top level domain names.."

The NARALO is aware that the situation then and now is different, and that United Domains and others provide substantial disclosure information about the nature of the pre-registration program. The NARALO also recognizes that the FTC action at the time was thought by some in the Internet community to be excessive and alarmist.

Therefore, the NARALO recommends that, through ALAC, ICANN undertake public communication that makes clear what, exactly, consumers and others might expect from "pre-registration." It should be the organization that administers the domain name system, not the agents of domain sale, who should be defining the nature of Internet "real estate" in the public interest.

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  1. In my view, the first issue is that the "offer" is for things that don't exist, and for things that won't exist. The "offer" misleads as to the certainty, and timing, of an event for which the predicate conditions have not yet been met, and the representation that there will be a ".usa" for which no condition other than "pre-registration" is sufficient is unconditionally misleading.

    The second issue is that the "offer" is made without the express knowledge and consent of those parties which are articulating community-developed policy, and unlikely to be consistent with the registration policies of those parties who's applications may eventually result in a registry contract with ICANN. The "offer" therefore creates harm to those who provide personally identifying information to the third-party vendor, in the generally frustrated ab initio expectation of eventual "first come, first served" registration, and to those who are articulating community-developed policy through a registry.

    After these deception and rights of others issues have been set forth, I'd then turn to the registrar contract policy issue of systematic misconduct by a contracted party, or the affiliates and agents (resellers) of contracted parties. We don't need the registrar market to start competing, not on the basis of cash for present services, but personally identifying information capture for hypothetical services.

    I completely agree with the final para, and only suggest that each of the two instances of "should" are changed to "must".

  2. At the request of Tom Lowenhaupt, who presently lacks access.

    Thomas Lowenhaupt's comment on the "Statement on Pre-Registration (NARLO)"

    In the instance of New York City, I can imagine pre-registrations becoming a matter of civic disruption. For example, imagine small businesses predicating their business plans on the availability of .nyc domain names as implied in these pre-registration offers. I start gearing up to offer And my sister-in-law hears of this new opportunity and "reserves" And Andy at Pizza Boy hears us jabbering and says he has a new chain of local pizza shops planned and this would fit in perfectly with his city-wide delivery plan. And on and on into the thousands.

    Next the city starts to take a serious look at the social, economic, cultural, and civic impact of .nyc and realizes that such a review will take some time. With cities acting in glacial time rather than Internet time, this could lead to many thousands of disappointed "pre-registrants."

    Now imagine a candidate for mayor, let's say Anthony Weiner - an advanced Internet use - sees this disgruntled group of pre-registrants as a political resource that can become a plank in his campaign, "Elect me mayor and on the first day in office I'll sign off on .nyc - NO DELAY!"

    With the ICANN having offered zero, zip, nada, guidance for cities looking into this once-in-an-Internet opportunity, I can see this as the winning proposition. "There's no evidence to show that city TLDs are other than revenue generating." "Our small businesses need it NOW." "Jobs, jobs, jobs." "Other cities are going to get a jump on us." Etc.

    More thoughtful candidates will be left arguing the benefits of infrastructure. ~ Mayor Weiner.

    Thomas Lowenhaupt, Founding Director Inc.