Domain ownership a hot topic during ICANN 51 conference in Los Angeles

ICANN has expanded the Internet namespace with the introduction of the new gTLDs; this dramatic growth in all directions – a digital Big Bang – dictates that some urgent housekeeping must be performed on existing TLDs.

Domains are not treated like property currently, and yet they are bought and sold for thousands and millions of dollars. There is no central repository of a title to peruse, and I’m not referring to the WHOIS information.

In cases where domains are stolen from their rightful owners, what recourse is there to retrieve the domains in a reasonable amount of time?

By “reasonable“, I don’t consider a single second beyond 3 days to be reasonable, assuming that a single day of processing past a weekend should be needed to restore order in such cases.

Unfortunately, domains can still be moved around, pushed between accounts or transferred out in malicious instances of domain theft.

The recent Moniker fiasco reinforces the need for a top-down system at the Registry level, that blocks all functions interfering with a domain name’s status, unless a digital signature tied to the owner is present.

More than ever, the creation of a digital domain title is needed to thwart any and all attempts of domain theft, forever.

In this paradigm, registrars would not have to do anything else other than receive the validation from the Registry in order to perform any change of ownership or transfer of domains to other accounts; certain “executive locks” and other lock-down processes currently being offered by some registrars, are either limited in the number of domains that can be locked for free, or cost additional money to enforce.

The end user should not have to foot the bill of such Registry and Registrar modernization; the fees currently charged, and the monies in the bank of both the Registries and ICANN should ensure that the modernization arrives as part of the services being offered, in the same way that one does not buy a house without a title update being recorded.

During the upcoming ICANN 51 conference in Los Angeles, ICANN must be pressured to begin transitioning the process of domain ownership, in order to align it to 21st century technological principles.

It is absurd that 20 years after the dawn of the commercial Internet, we are still facing huge obstacles to ensure that digital property, such as domain names, is safe in the hands of the respective owners.


  1. @ Acro, How come I am the only one who keeps harping that a syndicate within ICANN/VeriSign, and the major Registrars are helping themselves to valuable domain names, and sharing the profits?

    If you look at a VeriSign whois search, is it not plain VeriSign INTENDS to diminish the ownership or lease value of the domains it administers?

    Then, try a lookup at and The org and us registries do not have an issue with assigning a name to the domain name. Only VeriSign.

  2. This could be done with the blockchain technology.

  3. Etaoin Shrdlu says

    I don’t know what domain ownership problem you’re blathering about, because in the real world, essentially nothing you have written in your first few paragraphs is correct.

    I am just finishing up a lawsuit over domain name ownership. Domain names are treated as personal property. Domain names have a central repository at the registry that controls the TLD extension under which the domain name is issued. For example, .com domains are “located”, for legal purposes, in Virginia, where Verisign runs the .com registry.

    Issues with domain name theft by third parties, and “slamming” between registrars so that they can leech fees, are readily solvable through corporate policies at Verisign that would then be enforced on registries doing business through Verisign.

    Yes, the legal process for returning ownership after a case of fraud is complicated and costly. That is an issue with any sort of legal problem in the real world, because governments and courts and lawyers have no motivation to make things cost less.

  4. Etaoin Shrdlu (nice alias) – Please feel free to post a copy of your domain title, linking you exclusively to your “property”. The WHOIS stored at the Registry is not a title. In fact, domain names are on a lease by the Registry and effectively not a property; this needs to change.

    On the other hand, you cannot sell a house without a title. That’s what I am “blathering about.”

    Good luck restoring your domain, with the current status as dictated by ICANN you will be thousands of dollars out of pocket before it’s done.

  5. “On the other hand, you cannot sell a house without a title. That’s what I am “blathering about.””

    Depends where you are really. Have you read about the displacement of Indians without title? Sure, that’s a historical issue but the solution is that “other methods need to be considered such as photographs, historical records”.

    Houses are sold every day without a confirmed title. it’s why you pay title insurance when you make the transaction. It was very lucrative a few years ago to find poor title records (due to the mbs tranching) but focus on those that were rarely challenged (FM generally) and just buy insurance.

    No matter WHAT system you choice there is social engineering that can bypass and steal anything. What is shocking to most people is how easy it is with GoDaddy but it’s not unusual. If people can steal ENTIRE IDENTITIES why do you think a domain will be safe with some simple digital enhancements?

    Things could be made better but the solution will always have a point of weakness. There is nothing than can’t be misappropriated. Nothing.

  6. h4ck3r – That’s an oversimplification of available technology to safeguard a process. This won’t be a project ‘hacked’ in one’s spare time, but a contribution of security experts.

    No doubt, the current situation is extremely problematic, but any approach that borrows from the strict requirements of the house market cannot possibly be worse than what you get now.

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