Thousands complain about proposed tld contracts allowing price increases

The public consultation periods on the proposed contracts between the Icann and domain registries that allow for infinite price increases of the .org and .info domains expire on Tuesday morning at 2 a.m. Thousands of people have reacted and fear price increases.

De Icann, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, contracts with domain registries for a limited period of time. The contracts with the registries of the .org, .biz, and .info top-level domains will soon expire. The Icann wants to conclude new contracts with different conditions with the registers. In order to ask internet users and website owners for their opinion, the organization has started a consultation period. The consultation periods for the .org and .info domains end on Tuesday morning at 2 a.m., those for the .biz domain end on May 15 at the same time.

The biggest and most controversial change has to do with the amount of money that registrars are allowed to charge from registrars, the parties who ultimately sell the domains on to the end user. Current contracts limit the prices and price increases that registrars are allowed to charge registrars. However, the proposed contracts remove those restrictions and let the registries decide how much money they charge for domain names.

The Icann says it’s doing this because of the “maturing of the domain name market” and the goal of bringing the .org, -biz. and .info domain registries ‘to be treated fairly to domain registries that manage new domain names’. With the latter, the Icann refers to the custom TLDs that were introduced years ago and for which no price limits were introduced at the time.

Registrar Namecheap writes that this reasoning is ‘bad’. For example, according to Namecheap, it makes sense that registries for TLDs such as .guru, .money and .xyz should be allowed to charge more money, because it is a riskier business to offer those TLDs. A company must first invest money itself for, for example, a website in order to be able to sell the TLDs. If in the end no one buys the TLDs, the company will lose the money. According to Namecheap, this does not apply to a tld such as .org.

The German site Heise also indicates that consumers or companies with an existing .org website will be more inclined to pay a possible price increase. According to the site, it is not attractive for website owners to move to another domain. At the same time, Heise notes that the price charged by the .org registry has risen from 2002 to now from $6 to $9.93, while the registry could have asked for a price increase of ten percent per year during that time. In addition, the Icann writes that ‘the protection of current customers on the basis of the base registry agreement will remain intact’.

However, reactions to the proposed contracts have been overwhelmingly negative. About three hundred people together responded for the .info and .biz contracts, and more than three thousand for the .org contract. In the comments, people write that the relevant registries are already profitable ventures and do not need extra money, while high price increases can “ruin” the domain names for everyone. Another writes again that the proposed contracts are unfair. A third noted that the .org domain is widely used by foundations and that price increases can negatively impact charities.

After the consultation periods have concluded, the Icann will issue a report. For the .org and .info contracts, this report will be released on 14 May. The .biz report will follow on May 30.