Earlier this morning I caught wind of a Netcraft reporting indicating that ICANN's new transfer policy was a domain hijacker's dream. As one of the primary architects of this policy, I thought to myself "Hmmm, I've heard this before. Oh yeah, this is the same crap that we've been hearing from Netsol flacks for the past three years."

You see, ICANN created a big problem for Network Solutions. In 1999, ICANN set about creating an environment that mandated that NSI would have to compete for customers in an approximately fair market. The result of ICANN's work was that Network Solutions market share dropped from 100% to less than 20% in four short years.

In 2001, NSI thought that they'd be able to stymie effective competition by preventing their customers from choosing a competitive supplier by effectively ignoring any requests to transfer a domain name registration to another provider. Other companies like Register.com, Joker and TotalNIC quickly followed suit by making it difficult, or impossible, for their customers to switch to new providers.

This effectively destroyed the notion that customers had any choice in the matter as more and more registrars began to play the market-share transfer shell games. In 2001, Tucows effectively lobbied ICANN to initiate a policy development process with the assisted in initiating a formal ICANN policy development process based on the notion that Inter-registrar domain name transfers should be conducted in a secure manner that guaranteed customer choice. In other words, we believed it was incumbent upon ICANN to fulfill its mandate of promotion competition in the DNS while ensuring the security of their domain registrations. Three years later, we ended up in a very comfortable position with the new policies that come into effect on November 12.

For instance, under the old policy, if a domain name was "slammed" or "hijacked" there was no formal recourse, outside of costly litigation, for a registrant to get their name back or reconnect it with the original and rightful supplier. Under the new policy, there are a series of administrative processes and arbitration mechanisms that give registrants a cost-effective means for ensuring that mistakes are made correct.

Additionally, under the old policy, it was technically permissible that a registrar could effectively deny a registrant the right to transfer to a new supplier. This loophole was made more aggregious by the conflict of interest that existed within the policy. The same company that owned Network Solutions - Verisign, was responsible for administering the contracts governing these policies in most instances. I'll leave it to you to figure out exactly how many times Verisign found its own subsidiary in breach of its contract. Under the new policy, enforcement has been centralised with ICANN and a number of enforcement tools allow ICANN to appropriately and proactively enforce the new guidelines. Further, these policies ensure that the losing registrar is given the right to protect the security of a customer registration by denying a request to transfer a domain name in the event that the losing registrar has a reason to believe that the authenticity of the transfer request is in question.

The real story is that the folks at Netcraft have been fooled into stooging for a former monopolist that has sacrificed customer service in favor of protecting its dwindling market share under the guise of "security". The Slashdot crowd, obviously more enamored with Netcraft's glowing reports about Apache market share than they are with Netcraft's ability to credibly report fact, have swallowed this NSI driven propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Domain registrants stand to benefit a lot from this new policy. Anyone that wants to hear some more facts about the new policy should drop me a note.