Thursday, February 24, 2005

Domain hijack probe yet to release findings

An article by Sam Varghese in (reprinted below because the website forces you to register) states:

Forty days have elapsed since the domain name of Panix, a longtime ISP in New York, was hijacked from the registrar Dotster and ended up at Melbourne IT.

Yet, nothing is yet known about the role played (or not played) by Dotster. The investigation launched by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - the internet's arbiter of all things domain name related - on January 18 is yet to make its findings public.

The hijack itself generated a good deal of media coverage as a number of Panix subscribers are veterans of the net and posted details of the hijack to the mailing list of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG).

Melbourne IT did not hide the fact that it was partly to blame; chief technical officer Bruce Tonkin posted more than once to the NANOG list, explaining what had gone wrong.

Dotster has made no comment. After numerous attempts to obtain a statement, what Dotster's legal counsel Ravi Puri had to say was: "There was nothing that Dotster did wrong in the process. It happened because one of our competitors did not get proper approval for a domain transfer. We are actually prohibited from denying their approval by ICANN.

"One of the flaws in the new ICANN policy is that we have to trust the other party will do it right."

The ICANN rules, which came into force on November 12 last year, say that when a registrar sends a transfer request to the registry operator (and the name is not on Registrar LOCK), the registry operator sends a confirmation email to both the losing and gaining registrar.

When Puri was told about this and asked: "In this case, Dotster was the losing registrar. Why did Dotster not respond to this email and inform VeriSign that the transfer request should not be acceded to?" he did not reply.

Both Dotster and Melbourne IT were sent letters by ICANN seeking details about the hijack.

ICANN's chief registrar liaison Tim Cole said on February 8 regarding the responses from the two registrars to these letters: "We expect these to be made public this week."

An email inquiring as to why nothing has yet been made public has gone unanswered. Tonkin said today that he had not heard anything about the inquiry from ICANN either.

Panix has made no statement about Dotster's role in this whole episode.


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