August 19, 2019

ccTLD Update Summer 2019

.AT – Austria bids farewell to Admin Contact
 As a result of GDPR, the registry operator for .AT domains in Austria, GmbH, has made some adjustments to its systems, including the removal of the domain contact type ‘Admin-C’.  Domain transactions including an Admin Contact will now be rejected.

.BO – Launch of IDNs in Bolivia
NIC Bolivia, the registry operator for .BO domains, has announced the introduction of IDNs.

It is now possible to register domains under the second level .BO and all third-level extensions, including the more popular .COM.BO, .NET.BO and .ORG.BO, using the following characters á, é, í, ó, ú, ü and ñ.

 .ES – Special Cancellation Procedure, the registry operator for the ccTLD .ES in Spain, has announced that in order to ensure that the data associated with domain names is correct, it has signed collaboration agreements with certain public entities so that registered .ES domains can be analysed and those with reliable indications of inaccuracy and/or false registration data detected.

The registry will contact the relevant registrar, domain owner and administrative contact person where a domain has been found to contain errors or omissions in required registration data, providing them with 3 calendar days to correct the data and confirm that the data is true and accurate. Transfer in ownership of a domain is not allowed in this instance.

In order to apply for and register a .ES domain, you are obliged to provide among other details, your name or company name, a valid email address and your NIF ID or equivalent official identification document, or in other words, true and accurate data. 

.EU – .EU Eligibility for EU citizens in Europe; Expansion of services to EU Trade Mark holders; Farewell to Cyrillic .EU domains, hello to Greek .ευ TLD 
The new .EU Regulation was published on 29 March in the Official Journal of the European Union. It contains the main rules steering the Top-Level Domain for Europe and aims to strengthen the link with the growing Digital Single Market focusing on European values such as multilingualism, privacy protection and security. It will come into force on 13 October 2022, except for Article 20, which introduces eligibility to EU citizens residing in non-EU countries.  EURid has now confirmed that Article 20 will be applicable from 19 October 2019, permitting registration of a .EU domain name by EU citizens regardless of residency. As a result, the .EU Terms and Conditions and Registration Policy will be updated to show the revised eligibility criteria.

Furthermore, EURid has released its Quarter 1 2019 Progress Report on the status of the .EU and .ею TLDs, which shows an increase in the domain renewal rate of 1% to 78.2% since Quarter 4, 2018.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has, with EURid, expanded the services offered to EU Trade Mark holders. In addition to EU Trade Mark applicants being able to check if the equivalent .EU domain is available and proceed to register the domain with an accredited registrar.  As of 18 May, EU Trade Mark holders and applicants are now able to opt-in to receive alerts immediately upon registration of a .EU domain that is identical to their trademark application. This follows certain people having registered (in bad faith), .EU domains that are equivalent to applications of EU Trade Marks that have been published. This endeavours to prevent cyber-squatting by pro-actively informing the EU Trade Mark holders, and allow them to take the appropriate action more quickly.

Cyrillic domain names with the Latin .EU extension have now been phased out and were deleted on 1 June 2019.  This follows a three-year phase-out period, which was being carried out to follow the ‘no script mixing’ best practice for Internationalised Domain Names.

Only those domain names in Cyrillic with the Cyrillic .ею extension now remain registered.

Meanwhile, EURid’s string evaluation request for the IDN ccTLD for .EU in Greek (.ευ – .xn--qxa6a) has been completed by ICANN and EURid will now start the IANA delegation process. The .ευ TLD is expected to launch on 14 November 2019, with further information to follow in due course.

.FM – Emoji Domains available
FSM Telecommunications Corporation, which operates the .FM TLD and .RADIO.AM and .RADIO.FM extensions, has announced it is offering for sale “emoji” domains under .FM, .RADIO.AM and .RADIO.FM.  Some of the premium emoji domains, such as “television” 📺.FM and “slot machine” 🎰.FM are being offered for sale via the registry’s website for up to USD 4,995.

.FR – Study of the 2018 world domain market reveals growth of 4%
Afnic, the registry operator for the .FR ccTLD in France, has revealed the results of its study of the world’s domain name market in 2018.

The study found that at the end of 2018, there had been overall market growth of 4% of the 330 million global domain names, consisting of:

  • 176 million legacy TLDs (.COM, .NET, .ORG, etc)
  • 27 million new TLDs (created from 2014 onwards) and
  • 126 million ccTLDs. 

This compared with 1.2% in 2017 and shows a turnaround after the unsettled period from 2015 to 2017.  Such moderate growth should continue through 2019. The new gTLDs picked up growth in 2018 (15%), although they still only account for 8% of the global market, compared with .COM, accounting for 43% and the ccTLDs, accounting for 38% of the market share.  Legacy TLDs did not perform as well in 2018, with a decrease of 6% in registrations.

Africa’s regional ccTLDs grew by 9%, as did those of Asia-Pacific (12%), Latin America (6%) and North America (1%), however ccTLDs in Europe fell by 1%.

Meanwhile, the new gTLDs experienced stable growth in the geographic TLDs, whilst the generic TLDs grew by 13% and the .BRANDs by a huge 414%, admittedly from a low base. However this growth was mainly due to 3 TLDs of the 624: .APP (+361,000 names), .ICU (+290,000) and .FUN (+152,000).

Whilst three-quarters of the new gTLDs have less than 5,000 names in their portfolios and only 1% exceed 500,000 names, the change in the utilisation rate of new gTLDs and ongoing improvement since 2015 continues to be encouraging.

Finally, the study also found that .COM is actually a minority in each of the world’s regions, except for North America where it originated and has grown with the Internet.

ccTLDs provide a sense of belonging for regional populations, whereas US users appear for the most part to prefer generic TLDs – less so for Canada, where the .CA ccTLD has more than 33% of the local market share.

The full report can be found at

.IE – Alternative Process to Dispute Resolution; AERO.IE, COOP.IE and POST.IE on sale in Ireland

IE Domain Registry, the registry operator for the ccTLD .IE in Ireland, announced the introduction of a new and alternative dispute resolution process for contested .IE domains from 1 July 2019. The new process, is operated by Net Neutrals EU (an accredited dispute resolution body under the European Union (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015). It covers various types of dispute such as online impersonation, domain disputes between competing businesses, website contentscraping, defamation, rights-based complaints and others. It provides a faster, easier and more cost-effective way for parties to dispute the registration or use of a .IE domain.

Users of the service will be initially encouraged to use the new mediation service, wherein a qualified specialist provides their opinion on the dispute and either upholds or dismisses the complaint. The complainant is given the option to request that the disputed domain is deleted or transferred, should the complaint be upheld.

Complainants must have a provable connection to Ireland and because the domain holder has already met the domain registration requirements – a provable connection to Ireland and agreement to the terms of service – the burden of proof lies with the complainant.

Previously, costly and formal legal proceedings or a dispute resolution process via the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) had to be followed in order to dispute registration or use of a .IE domain.

The registry believes this new process will help to solve such disputes in a timely and fair manner.

In addition, there are some minimal updates to the .IE Registrant Terms and Conditions from 1 July in order to accommodate the operation of this alternative dispute resolution process, particularly in Section 10.

.ME – Launch of IDNs for Montenegro
The Government of Montenegro, the registry for the .ME ccTLD in Montenegro, announced the launch of a number of IDNs for registration in November last year to celebrate the first decade of .ME.  It is now possible to register .ME domains in the following languages and scripts: Arabic, Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Croatian, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Montenegrin (Latin and Cyrillic), Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian (Latin and Cyrillic), Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian.  .ME IDNs are available for registration from 1 to 10 years on a first-come, first-served basis.

 .MO – Improvement of the WHOIS function for Macao
Macao Network Information Centre (MONIC), the registry operator for the .MO ccTLD in Macao, has updated its WHOIS enquiry service and adjusted the WHOIS information hiding option for new registrants and contact persons.  They are advising domain holders to hide their important personal data via the “Visibility” page of “My Contacts”. When you choose to hide the contact email information in this way, MONIC will replace the email information displayed in the WHOIS with a web form which the public can use to contact the Registrant, Administrative, Billing and Technical Contacts of the domain name registration via MONIC’s notification of the relevant registrant and contacts.

 .PL – Withdrawal of the Domain Name Reservation Functionality in Poland
The registry operator for the .PL ccTLD in Poland, NASK, has announced that from 8 January 2020 there will be a change in the registration process, in that the facility of reserving domain names for 14 days before being registered (RESERVED state) will no longer be available via registrars.  Instead, reservations will only be possible via the registry and provided to registrars for domain registrations for option holders (potential registrants who have reserved a name) or following a legally valid court decision. The registry hopes this will simplify the registration process and be more in line with other TLD registry models.

NASK will consequently also remove the state “BOOK_BLOCKED”, which occurs after reservation release and the last domains will be released from that state on 7 February 2020.

.PT – Portugal enjoys best year ever
The registry operator for the Portuguese ccTLD .PT, DNS.PT Association, celebrated its 30th birthday and best year ever, reaching an historical milestone of 107,850 new domain registrations in 2018.  It continued to reach records in January this year, with 13,695 new domain registrations making it also the registry’s best January ever.

Growth of the Portuguese ccTLD is above the European average and in the top 5 European domains.  There are currently more than 1,149,890 domains registered in the .PT namespace.

 .SA – Calls for DNSSEC activation in Saudi Arabia
The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), which operates the .SA ccTLD for Saudi Arabia, has called upon all registered domain names and individuals to activate the DNSSEC extension for their domain names, within their networks and with their hosting providers.

CITC has reinforced to all system administrators the need to ensure that DNSSEC is activated in all resolvers in order to protect the national network infrastructure as part of its efforts to develop the Saudi Internet Domain Name System and to meet its operational and security requirements.

 DNSSEC uses public key cryptography to digitally sign authoritative zone data and protects the Internet community from unauthentic DNS data, assuring users that the data originated from the source indicated and that it was not altered in transit.

 Whilst CITC has provided the DNSSEC service for all Saudi registrars since 2017, it will be the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to apply the extension to all users.

 .SG – Registry consults on .NET.SG regulations
The registry operator for the .SG ccTLD in Singapore, SGNIC, has announced that, in response to feedback that it has received over the years, it is conducting a review of its domain registration policies.  The consultation is specifically looking for views on the registration requirements for .NET.SG domain names, as well as some proposed policy changes regarding the resale of .SG domain names as follows:

 Resale of .SG domains

Under the existing SGNIC domain name registration rules, policies and procedures, which were mostly established in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it is currently forbidden for a .SG domain registrant to sell, trade, assign or otherwise deal with their registered domain. SGNIC wanted to ensure that domains were not being used for resale and profit-making purposes, but for ‘proper’ use such as websites and emails.  The registry also wanted to ensure a good choice of .SG domains for applicants with genuine needs. However, the registry has received comments on the no-resale policy to the effect that by allowing the resale of names, end users would in fact be provided with more choice and applicants with genuine needs would be able to obtain their chosen domain, which might not have been possible under the current rules. Others have also suggested that the no-resale policy could be relaxed to match policies of other ccTLD registries, where resale is not prohibited.

 The registry is thus inviting views and comments on:

  1. Its proposal to permit the resale of domains registered under the .SG extension, as well as its Chinese and Tamil IDN equivalents of .新加坡 and .சிங்கப்பூர்;
  2. Its proposal to retain the no-resale policy for the rest of the .SG domain registrations under .COM.SG, .EDU.SG, .ORG.SG, etc (due to their restricted nature and to preserve the integrity of these extensions).

.UK – Five-year Right of Registration comes to an end for .UK; Proposed Proxy Services Framework and 32,000 domains suspended
The five-year Right of Registration period launched back in June 2014 by Nominet, the registry operator for the .UK ccTLD, has come to an end. Domain holders of third-level .UK domains (.CO.UK, .ORG.UK, .ME.UK, .NET.UK, .PLC.UK and .LTD.UK) had until 25 June to secure their equivalent shorter second-level .UK domains before they were released to the public. Nominet estimates that there were roughly 1.8 million domains available for rights holders at the close of the registration period.

All unregistered second-level domains from this Right of Registration phase were made available to the public via a specific release process that took place between 1 and 5 July 2019. Since 8 July 2019 all the remaining domains have been available on a first-come, first-served basis.

New .UK Proxy Services framework
Furthermore, following a 30-day comment period for stakeholders of the .UK namespace in September last year, Nominet confirmed in December that it would proceed with a newly designed Proxy Services framework to ensure that registrars wanting to provide such proxy services meet certain criteria in terms of data access, resilience and compliance. The main requirements are that:
• Accredited Channel Partners only may participate.
• Participating registrars are required to submit either a suitable Proxy Service Incident Plan (PSIP), or ensure that a suitable third-party data escrow scheme is in place.
• A Proxy Service Provider must supply details of the underlying registrant within two working days in the case of DRS claims.
• Proxy Service Providers have to respond to LEA data requests within one working day.
• There will be an annual compliance audit for participating registrars to ensure accuracy of underlying data.

Despite differing opinions on privacy, Nominet said that after a number of years listening to stakeholder feedback on privacy, it understands that there are “legitimate reasons why a registrant would want to take advantage of a privacy or proxy service”.

.UK Registry Suspended Domains
Meanwhile, the .UK registry has published its report on the domains it has suspended due to criminal activity following notification from the police and other law enforcement organisations for the period from 1 November 2017 to 31 October 2018. The report suggests that the number of .UK domains suspended has doubled again year on year to 32,813 and represents around 0.27% of the 12 million domains registered under .UK.

Nominet’s CEO Russell Haworth says, “The upward trend we are seeing in suspended domains confirms that criminals are continuing to seek opportunities in the UK namespace – be it the issue of counterfeits online, or where criminals relentlessly target consumers with malicious content, via domains registered for phishing.”

.VU – Transfer of Delegation
At the recent ICANN board meeting in Kobe, it was announced that the manager for the ccTLD for Vanuatu, .VU, would be transferred to Telecommunications Radiocommunications and Broadcasting Regulator (TRBR), the first change in its delegation since being delegated to Telecom Vanuatu Limited (TVL) in the mid-1990s. The transfer has now been completed and TRBR will be processing the splitting of its Registry and Registrar functions.

Vanuatu lies on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ and regularly experiences natural disasters, including cyclones, volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis, with over 2,000 seismic events reported each year.

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