Draft domain regulations damaging to brand .ZA

Draft .ZA Registry and Registrar Licensing Regulations and Procedures proposed by the .ZA Domain Name Regulatory Authority (.ZADNA) place burdensome restrictions on domain name registrars and registrants which will lead to brand owners abandoning the .ZA Internet country code in favour of one of the multitude of generic domains (such as .COM or .BUSINESS) that are easier to register.

“.ZADNA’s draft regulations and procedures as they stand threaten to undo 34 years of local and international goodwill towards domains ending in .ZA. The regulations are heavy-handed and cumbersome and as such will disincentivise adoption of .ZA registrations,” said William Stucke, chair of ISPA’s domain name working group.

ISPA enjoys an active and constructive relationship with .ZADNA, which it greatly values. But as a considerable number of its members provide registry and registrar services, ISPA is obliged to communicate the fact that .ZADNA’s draft regulations are entirely out of step with current domain name international best practises and markets.

In particular, the proposed requirement that registrars collect identification information from those wanting to register a .za address will deter new registrations and renewals and lead to additional costs for registrars. In a highly competitive registrar market, this means increases in the retail pricing of .ZA domains.

The .ZA namespace has been so well-managed by .ZADNA and the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) thus far that from only 400 registered names some three decades ago, registered co.za, web.za, org.za and net.za domains now number a commendable 1.362m.

“A positive growth trajectory will be maintained as long as the significant .ZA goodwill that has been earned over the years is not destroyed by top-down approaches to domain administration that only serve to sweep aside past progress as domain owners and others shift to more stable platforms that don’t needlessly change what works”.

“ISPA’s firm view is that the draft regulations as they are proposed need serious reworking based on a comprehensive understanding of the domain name ecosystem if they are to contribute to the continuing success of the .ZA namespace.

“The draft regulations as proposed would have a deleterious effect on the .ZA namespace and ISPA sincerely hopes .ZADNA will properly consider the many submissions that have been prepared by the industry,” concluded Stucke.

The formal submission made to .ZADNA – one of more than 130 received by ZADNA in response to the draft regulations and procedures – has been posted to www.ispa.org.za/regulatory-submissions

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