Washington D.C. (Sept. 13, 2007) – The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) today announced it has adopted an eight-point member code of conduct designed to foster and promote fair and ethical business practices in the domain name industry.
“We are very pleased to introduce the ICA’s Member Code of Conduct,” said ICA Executive Director Michael Collins. “We believe that following these best practices will go a long way toward addressing and resolving many of the important issues facing the domain name industry as it continues to grow and mature.
The ICA’s Member Code of Conduct (full text at the end of this news release) covers the major areas of conflict that have arisen in the emerging domain name business. These include protection of intellectual property rights, ending abusive domain name tasting, strict adherence to Internet fraud laws, transparency in the ownership of domain names and the use of lawful content. The Code also condemns a process that involves returning a domain name just before the five-day grace registration period expires and re-registering it again as soon as it becomes available in order to avoid paying registration fees (often referred to as domain “kiting”), and requires ICA members to follow established ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) guidelines for registering and deleting domain names.
“The ICA is eager to work with our members and others involved with the domain name industry, including ICANN and Congress, to further establish reasonable and effective rules of the road that protect the rights of consumers as well as all the companies that participate in Internet commerce,” Collins said.
Collins said that the ICA’s goal is to give first priority to market-driven solutions to domain name industry problems such as abusive domain name tasting, noting that ICA had strongly supported the introduction of a “restocking fee” for the .org top level domain, which, according to Public Interest Registry, stopped the abuse.” “ICA has zero tolerance for Internet outlaws,” said Collins. “ICA supports strict enforcement of the laws that target illegal practices such as cybersquatting and “phishing.” Cybersquatting refers to the practice of registering and reserving an Internet domain name for the purpose of reselling it to the rightful owner at an inflated price. Phishers attempt to lure Internet users via e-mails to counterfeit Web sites disguised as trusted companies in order to get sensitive data, such as credit card information.
“The ICA and its members believe that existing laws generally do a good job protecting consumers, as well as the intellectual property rights of companies in cases involving fraud or clearly illegal intent. We also believe that the industry itself can resolve most of the other issues that have arisen and that may not be fully addressed by these laws,” Collins said.
He noted that ICA has taken a strong stand against cybersquatting and domain kiting, advocating that a registrant has the responsibility to pay the registration cost of a domain name when used beyond the applicable add/grace period.
The domain name industry offers significant time-saving benefits and services to Internet users who choose to bypass online search engines and use direct navigation to access websites through generic searches. ICA research shows that approximately 25 percent of Internet users employ this intent-driven search method. The industry, which includes the buying and selling of domain names, as well as revenue generation from original content, online commerce, and pay-per-click advertising, has a global portfolio asset value of $10 billion that is expected to double by 2010.
Founded in 2006, the Internet Commerce Association is a non-profit domain name industry organization representing individuals and companies that own, buy, sell, resell, host and manage Internet traffic which comes from search engines, domain names and Internet links. Based in Washington D.C., its mission is to promote and share best practices among participants in the domain name industry and to educate consumers, regulators, elected officials and others about the value and benefits of direct navigation traffic and the domain name business.
Internet Commerce Association – Member Code of Conduct
The Internet Commerce Association’s (ICA) Member Code of Conduct expresses the ICA’s recognition of the responsibilities of its members to the intellectual property, domain name, and at large Internet communities and will guide members in conducting their domain name investment and development activities with professionalism, respect and integrity.
All members of ICA are committed to addressing the issues facing the evolving domain name industry, which include:
Protection of Intellectual Property Rights: A registrant shall follow accepted trademark law and respect the brands and trademarks of others. Members will not intentionally and in bad faith register and use a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark. Registrants shall respond promptly to legitimate disputes relating to alleged infringement of intellectual property rights.
Domain Name Tasting: Members should be supportive of changes in ICANN policy or self-driven registry initiatives that end abusive domain name tasting, including such market-based approaches as a restocking fee. All activity related to domain name registration should respect all other areas of the Code of Conduct, most notably including protection of intellectual property rights.
Domain Name Kiting: A registrant has the responsibility to pay the registration cost of a domain name when used beyond the applicable Add/Grace period. A registrant should not abuse the applicable Add/Grace period by serially deleting and re-registering a domain name with the intent of avoiding payment for such registration and use, a process commonly referred to as “domain kiting.”
Strict Adherence to Internet Fraud Laws: Members of the ICA are committed to adhering to all applicable laws that seek to curb and control Internet fraud and abuse. Cybersquatting, the practice of registering and reserving an Internet domain name for the purpose of reselling it to the rightful owner at an inflated price, is condemned; as are practices such as phishing, which is the process of attempting to obtain the personal information of unsuspecting Internet users for illicit purposes.
Access to Accurate WHOIS Data: A registrant will provide accurate domain name ownership and contact information to the WHOIS database in a timely manner so that domain name ownership is transparent. While a registrant may use a proxy service or other accepted means of privacy protection, a registrant should provide a timely response to any inquiry passed on via such proxy or related service or received directly when such service has complied with a lawful request for contact information.
Lawful Content: A registrant’s usage of domain names shall follow applicable laws and regulations and a registrant shall not use domain names for unlawful purposes. A registrant shall avoid registering a domain name which suggests the availability of content or the provision of goods or services are unlawful.
Respect for Human Suffering and Victims of Tragedy: A registrant should be respectful of persons and communities involved in tragedy. A registrant should not intentionally register a domain name related to a current or historical event involving human suffering or tragedy where the primary purpose of such registration is commercial profit.
Protection of Names of Persons: A registrant should acknowledge that persons are known by their name. A registrant should not intentionally register a domain name that incorporates the name of another person for the purpose of intentional defamation or slander. Domain names that incorporate the name of a famous person should not be used in a manner that suggests a non-existing endorsement.
ICA members found to be in intentional violation of any provisions of this Code of Conduct shall be liable to having their membership suspended or terminated.
Each member of the ICA is, through their application for and continued membership in the ICA, self-certifying that they subscribe to this Code of Conduct and that they shall conduct their domain name activities in full compliance with it. Upon receipt of credible and substantiated information that an ICA member is not in compliance with this Code of Conduct the Board, or an internal task force to which it has delegated appropriate authority, shall conduct an investigation of such allegation. Upon a finding that a member has intentionally violated one or more provisions of this Code the Board shall, in its sole discretion, take such warning, suspension, or expulsion action as it deems appropriate. Notwithstanding the preceding, any ICA member that is indicted for or otherwise charged with a criminal offense involving a domain name or underlying website shall immediately have its membership suspended, and shall be expelled from the ICA in the event that it is convicted of such criminal offense.
In applying this Code of Conduct for the purpose of determining whether activities are unlawful or in violation of applicable laws or regulations, the ICA shall apply generally accepted rules of jurisdiction regarding activities taking place in cyberspace.