Marriott Worldwide Corporation
10400 Fernwood Road
Bethesda MD 20817
+1 301 380 3000
+1 301 644 8094
Mr. Joshua Bourne
+1 202 223 9252
Ms. Elisabeth Escobar
Vice President & Senior Counsel, Intellectual Property
+1 301 380 8560
|Arne Morris Sorenson||Director & Vice President|
|Carl T. Berquist||Director|
|Edward A. Ryan||Director & Vice President|
|J.W. Marriott, Jr.||President|
|Bancroft S. Gordon||Secretary|
|Bradley R. Wood||Assistant Secretary|
|Carolyn Burris Handlon||Treasurer|
|Chanel M. Bradden||Assistant Secretary|
|Charles Johnson||Assistant Secretary|
|Horace E. Jordan, Jr.||Vice President & Assistant Secretary|
|Kevin M. Kimball||Vice President|
|Laura L. Floyd||Assistant Secretary|
|Mark Forseth||Assistant Secretary|
|Michael E. Cullen||Vice President & Assistant Secretary|
|Michael S. Owens||Assistant Secretary|
|Richard J. Lind||Assistant Secretary|
|Steven Goldman||Assistant Secretary|
|Susannah M. Bennett||Assistant Secretary|
|W. David Mann||Vice President & Assistant Secretary|
|Ward R. Cooper||Assistant Secretary|
|Marriott International, Inc.||Not Applicable|
Marriott Worldwide Corporation anticipates the introduction of this .MARRIOTT gTLD without operational or rendering problems. Based on a decade of experience launching and operating new TLDs, Afilias Limited (ʺAfiliasʺ) the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD, is confident the launch and operation of this gTLD presents no known challenges. The rationale for this opinion includes: -The string is not complex and is represented in standard ASCII characters and follows relevant technical, operational and policy standards; -The string length is within lengths currently supported in the root and by ubiquitous Internet programs such as web browsers and mail applications; -There are no new standards required for the introduction of the .MARRIOTT gTLD; -No onerous requirements are being made on registrars, registrants or Internet users, and; -The existing secure, stable and reliable Afilias SRS, DNS, WHOIS and supporting systems and staff are amply provisioned and prepared to meet the needs of the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Answer for Question 18
18.1 Mission and Purpose of .MARRIOTT
Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”) is a leading global hospitality services company, serving the needs of current and prospective guests around the world through its brands such as Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard By Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton. Marriott has more than 150,000 employees and over 3,700 lodging properties in the United States and 71 other countries and territories. Marriott’s content is accessible in the following representative TLDs : .COM, .NET, .ORG, .CA, .CN, .EU, and .JP.
Through a unified corporate approach, Marriott intends to submit one gTLD application for the string .MARRIOTT.
The intended future mission and purpose of the .MARRIOTT gTLD is to serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive namespace provided by Marriott and potentially its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates. In order to bring this domain to market, Marriott is utilizing Marriott Worldwide Corporation (“MWC”), a wholly owned, existing entity. MWC is filing this application in ICANN’s first round also to test the utility of this new space in reaching current and prospective guests through online campaigns.
MWC will be analyzing and evaluating other .BRAND gTLD applications as well as general market adoption of new gTLDs to determine short- and long-term potential best-in-class use case options to most effectively serve and enhance Marriott’s online strategy as a leading global retailer with operations in the following segments:
-FULL-SERVICE LODGING: Founded in 1927, Marriott began as a root beer stand in Washington, DC and has evolved into a global hospitality company with full-service offerings across the following brands: MARRIOTT, JW MARRIOTT, RENAISSANCE, THE RITZ-CARLTON, BULGARI, AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION, EDITION, and MARRIOTT CONFERENCE CENTERS.
-SELECT-SERVICE LODGING: Marriott also has a variety of select-service lodging brands offering competitive pricing and convenient amenities for business travelers and families. Marriott’s brands in this segment include COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT, FAIRFIELD INN BY MARRIOTT, SPRINGHILL SUITES BY MARRIOTT, and AC HOTELS BY MARRIOTT.
-EXTENDED-STAY LODGING: Marriott offers a variety of properties in this segment designed for stays of longer durations than one to two nights, with many units offering kitchens and larger living areas. Marriott’s brands in this segment include MARRIOTT EXECUSTAY, RESIDENCE INN BY MARRIOTT, TOWNEPLACE SUITES BY MARRIOTT, and MARRIOTT EXECUTIVE APARTMENTS.
MWC intends to initially limit registration and use of domain names within the .MARRIOTT gTLD to Marriott, as well as potentially to Marriottʹs qualified subsidiaries and affiliates. This initial limited use will allow MWC to establish the .MARRIOTT operations and achieve full sustainability. This limited distribution coupled with the other requirements set forth in Specification 9 of the template Registry Agreement should exempt MWC from its annual Code of Conduct Compliance requirements. MWC is currently planning a four-stage rollout for Marriott’s gTLD as summarized below.
1. Stage One
The initial stage of implementation of the gTLD will involve MWC registering a limited number of .MARRIOTT second-level domain names.
This initial use will provide Marriott’s IT and security personnel the time to run a number of tests to ensure seamless and secure access using the .MARRIOTT gTLD domain names, interoperability with various software and Web-based applications, and unbroken and secure use of all names. This initial allocation will also allow the appropriate MWC staff to coordinate with the internal and external staff responsible for the delegation and setup phases of the .MARRIOTT gTLD to ensure a proper transition from delegation to full operation.
2. Stage Two
Once all testing has been successfully completed, MWC will begin allocating domain names in .MARRIOTT for more widespread internal corporate use. During this same period of time, MWC will begin evaluating strategies to potentially migrate traffic away from its current patchwork network of second-level domain names, which are registered in a variety of TLDs, to .MARRIOTT.
It is in Stage 2 that MWC will evaluate expanding the operations of the gTLD to permit registration by other registrants such as licensees or strategic partners.
Should an assessment of its expansion strategy lead to a decision to extend registration rights to other parties, this expansion is currently planned to take place during Stage 3, and likely after the first three years of operation. However, any expansion would be conditioned upon a review of the Specification 9 (Registry Code of Conduct) set forth in the template Registry Agreement to ensure compliance with Marriott’s business model.
3. Stage Three
Depending upon the analysis of the evaluations undertaken in Stage Two, MWC may begin to implement the permanent migration of Internet traffic away from the gTLDs in which Marriott’s domain names are currently registered, and toward the new .MARRIOTT gTLD.
It is in this stage that MWC also may implement its decision to extend registration rights to licensees and strategic partners, depending upon compliance with Specification 9, as noted above. The dates of such expansion are subject to change depending upon business, strategic, and industry factors at the time.
After consideration of the following factors: analysis of Marriott’s existing domain name portfolio; internal analysis of marketing initiatives; and the fact that MWC will have full control over the number of registrations in the .MARRIOTT gTLD namespace, MWC is confident that the number of domain name registrations will be less than 10,000 in the first five years of operation.
4. Stage Four
Based on its experience during the initial stages of operation, and based on its experience with any expansion implemented in Stage 3, MWC will assess whether its business plan and expansion strategy should be augmented by extending registration rights to a broader class of licensees and⁄or strategic partners. It is anticipated by MWC that changes to the domain name industry, and particularly the impact of .BRAND gTLDs, will take at least five years to be realized and assessed. Any decision to expand the gTLD beyond qualified subsidiary and affiliate use will take into account this experience as well as the technical analysis of potential expansion.
The potential use of the .MARRIOTT gTLD by these or other business segments will also be driven by Marriott’s future business strategies as identified in its annual report and investor filings, see: http:⁄⁄investor.shareholder.com⁄mar⁄marriottAR10⁄index.html.
Utilizing current projections based upon Marriott’s existing businesses, future business plans, current domain name portfolio, and other strategic factors, MWC estimates second-level domain name registrations to be in line with the projections set forth in the financial template provided in the answer to Question 46 of this application.
18.2 How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants, Internet users, and others?
MWC believes that a proposed .MARRIOTT gTLD has the potential to offer the following benefits to current and prospective guests searching for Marriott-branded content online:
-Establish a trusted source of information and online marketplace for the millions of guests searching for information about Marriott’s services and properties worldwide, for investors and third parties seeking information, and for the general Internet user population;
-Provide Marriott and potentially its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates with short and memorable Internet addresses, and provide increased navigation to property information, services, advertising campaigns, public interest content, public awareness initiatives, etc;
-Through the adoption of new gTLDs by the wider Internet user community, consumers may benefit from fewer incidences of phishing and malware often associated with mistypes of domain names in the .COM space that are owned by cybersquatters, since consumers will be navigating to domain names in the .MARRIOTT gTLD;
-Minimize the cost and need for defensive registrations because domain names within the .MARRIOTT gTLD will only be allocated by MWC to Marriott and potentially its qualified affiliates and subsidiaries; and
-Develop a potential platform for the secure access to, purchase of, and distribution of Marriott reservations and information to consumers, in order to minimize the potential for incidents of phishing and pharming.
Currently, Marriott operates a number of corporate websites using a combination of second-level and top-level domain names. A representative sampling of Marriott websites that incorporate geographical identifiers into the domain name include:
MWC believes that a .MARRIOTT gTLD can provide an online single-source identifying function for its current and future customers around the world, instead of the present mix-and-match approach that Marriott is currently forced to resort to as it expands into different global markets.
18.2.1 What is the goal of your proposed gTLD in terms of areas of specialty, service levels, or reputation?
The primary mission and purpose of the .MARRIOTT gTLD is to provide a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive online marketplace to deliver Marriott-branded content to current and prospective guests worldwide. As Marriott continues to expand, the company will continue to pursue and develop opportunities to market and distribute its online content and products to guests throughout the world via various platforms, including the Internet and mobile devices. Consumers increasingly demand access to branded content, including Marriott’s, through a variety of channels, which include domain names. For this reason, Marriott believes that a .MARRIOTT gTLD has potential to provide an innovative, virtual avenue to Marriott-branded content that will deepen and broaden the company’s relationship with consumers.
Most importantly, MWC will be able to provide access to Marriott-branded information and online content in a namespace devoid of piracy, cybersquatting, and other malicious activities. Providing current and prospective guests with a trusted experience is paramount to MWC and its parent, Marriott International, Inc., and a .MARRIOTT gTLD will be used to further that goal.
While hospitality companies such as Marriott fight a never-ending battle to protect their brands online, a .MARRIOTT gTLD potentially offers a safe and intuitive means of accessing authorized content from Marriott and as well as from Marriott’s qualified subsidiaries and affiliates.
Marriott is supportive of existing anti-cybersquatting legislation and consumer protection measures, including the U.S. Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and others. As Marriott invests in expanding the domain name space through the establishment of a .MARRIOTT gTLD, it will also actively seek to prevent cybersquatting, fraud, phishing, and other malicious activities within the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Maintaining the highest standards within the .MARRIOTT gTLD will give MWC and its parent the opportunity to take a proactive approach to protecting intellectual property rights and fostering a safer online experience for all Internet users.
18.2.2 What do you anticipate your proposed gTLD will add to the current space, in terms of competition, differentiation, or innovation?
As a branded gTLD, the primary driving factors of a .MARRIOTT gTLD are differentiation and innovation.
The success of the gTLD will be measured not by the number of domain names registered, but rather by the level of consumer recognition and trust that is placed in the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Using this benchmark, MWC will strive to build consumer recognition and trust through usage of the .MARRIOTT gTLD that rises to the level found in the .EDU and .GOV gTLDs.
As noted above, Marriott is a leading global hospitality company that leverages numerous distribution channels and emerging technologies to deliver its online content to customers internationally. The .MARRIOTT gTLD has the potential to serve as a cornerstone of this online strategy.
MWC believes that the .MARRIOTT gTLD will provide a single trusted ecosystem experience for the millions of current and prospective Marriott guests searching for information about the company’s offerings and making reservations for stays at Marriott properties worldwide. In addition, the gTLD will provide a trusted space for those seeking corporate information about Marriott, including investors and members of the press.
Guests will know that domains and content on .MARRIOTT are owned and controlled by Marriott, through MWC, and are thus more likely to be protected from infringing or harmful content.
The initial use of the .MARRIOTT gTLD will involve a limited number of second-level domain names. This initial use will provide MWC with the ability to ensure seamless and secure access to the Marriott website and interoperability with various software and Web and mobile-based applications. Once appropriate security and stability issues have been satisfactorily addressed, MWC will likely begin allocating domain names for internal corporate use and may redirect new .MARRIOTT domain names to pre-existing content. This phased rollout will likely take place over a multi-year period, subject to change depending upon a range of external factors.
At the same time, MWC will evaluate potential strategies to migrate traffic away from the current network of second-level domains registered in various TLDs to the .MARRIOTT gTLD, which offers the potential to provide customers with a single, trusted online source for Marriott brand products and services.
18.2.4 Provide a complete description of the applicant’s intended registration policies in support of the goals listed above.
MWC currently intends for the .MARRIOTT gTLD to be used exclusively by Marriott, potentially its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates, and possibly licensees and strategic partners in the following years. Because of this condition, and because the MARRIOTT brand is a valuable asset, the protection of which is paramount to the company, MWC intends to address registration and use requirements in its partner agreements, should it choose to provide domains to qualified subsidiaries, affiliates, and⁄or licensees and strategic partners, rather than in a domain name registration agreement.
MWC will, of course, incorporate all required ICANN consensus policies and other legal⁄policy requirements applicable to new gTLD applicants into the terms and conditions of the domain name registration agreement that each partner will execute.
18.2.5 Will your proposed gTLD impose any measures for protecting the privacy or confidential information of registrants or users? If so, please describe any such measures.
As a global hospitality company, Marriott recognizes that this is an evolving area of law in which there are no international standards. Marriott respects the privacy of its guests and other consumers. The company employs a variety of physical, electronic, contractual, and managerial safeguards to protect personal and confidential information in its properties and on its websites. MWC will take similar precautions to protect registrant and user data associated with the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
MWC will ensure that the operation of the .MARRIOTT gTLD will be consistent with Marriottʹs Statement of Privacy Principles, see: http:⁄⁄www.marriott.com⁄marriott⁄privacy-us.mi.
In addition, MWC intends to incorporate contractual language in its Registry-Registrar Agreement (RRA) modeled after language which has been included in the template Registry Agreement and which has been successful utilized by existing ICANN gTLD Registry Operators.
The template Registry Agreement states “Registry Operator shall (i) notify each ICANN-accredited registrar that is a party to the registry-registrar agreement for the TLD of the purposes for which data about any identified or identifiable natural person (“Personal Data”) submitted to Registry Operator by such registrar is collected and used under this Agreement or otherwise and the intended recipients (or categories of recipients) of such Personal Data, and (ii) require such registrar to obtain the consent of each registrant in the TLD for such collection and use of Personal Data. Registry Operator shall take reasonable steps to protect Personal Data collected from such registrar from loss, misuse, unauthorized disclosure, alteration or destruction.
Registry Operator shall not use or authorize the use of Personal Data in a way that is incompatible with the notice provided to registrars.ʺ
18.2.6 Describe whether and in what ways outreach and communications will help to achieve your projected benefits.
While Marriott sees the potential for the .MARRIOTT gTLD to play a large role in the company’s future online strategy, the extent of likely benefits is currently uncertain due to questions of user recognition, the adoption of new gTLDs, and the response from search engines in the marketplace that will influence the usage of the gTLD and communication about that usage.
As a first step, MWC plans to start using .MARRIOTT domains initially as redirects to existing .COM domains. As the aforementioned questions are answered over time, MWC may decide to initiate a targeted, pilot rollout using select .MARRIOT domains as primary addresses and, after careful analysis and study of this rollout, MWC may engage in a broader initiative, should the results be satisfactory and in accordance with the company’s overall strategic goals. The actual usage of .MARRIOTT domain names will dictate what public communications and consumer outreach is done to encourage navigation to the .MARRIOTT gTLD. This is not limited to, but may include advertising, media outreach, communications, email campaigns, etc.
18.3.1 What operating rules will you adopt to eliminate or minimize social costs (e.g., time or financial resource costs, as well as various types of consumer vulnerabilities)?
MWC’s proposed operating rules to limit registration to Marriott, its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates, and potentially its licensees and strategic partners will provide a trusted online environment for current and prospective guests to access Marriott’s online content, and by default, will minimize social costs. This verified ecosystem provides current and prospective guests with a single, trusted source for Marriott brand products and information with a substantially lower risk of fraud and⁄or scams. MWC does not anticipate user vulnerabilities. In addition, there is no need for other trademark and brand owners to defensively register second-level domains in the gTLD. In fact, MWC’s expectation is that the usage of a .MARRIOTT gTLD will eliminate some of the vulnerabilities that Marriott customers face in the wider Internet today.
18.3.2 What other steps will you take to minimize negative consequences⁄costs imposed upon consumers?
MWC believes that the proposed operation of the .MARRIOTT gTLD as set forth in this application has no known negative consequences or cost implications to consumers.
On the contrary, the proposed operation of this registry will likely lead to direct benefits to consumers.
18.3.3 How will multiple applications for a particular domain name be resolved, for example, by auction or on a first-come⁄first-serve basis?
MWC does not envision multiple applicants for the same domain name, as domain names will only be allocated to Marriott, its qualified affiliates and subsidiaries, and potentially its licensees and strategic partners.
18.3.4 Explain any cost benefits for registrants you intend to implement (e.g., advantageous pricing, introductory discounts, bulk registration discounts).
MWC does not envision any pricing, introductory discounts, or bulk registration discounts because these marketing⁄commercial initiatives are inconsistent with the mission and purpose of the .MARRIOTT gTLD as a trusted online source identifier.
Moreover, it is the current intention of MWC to provide domain name registrations to Marriott, its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates, and potentially its licensees and strategic partners at no cost, though the company reserves the right to reevaluate this decision and may choose to impose a nominal fee in the future. Any potential registrant fees imposed upon qualified subsidiaries and affiliates and licensees and strategic partners will be decided in the future should this class of registrants be permitted to register domain names in the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
18.3.5 Note that the Registry Agreement requires that registrars be offered the option to obtain initial domain name registrations for periods of one to ten years at the discretion of the registrar, but no greater than ten years. Additionally, the Registry Agreement requires advance written notice of price increases. Do you intend to make contractual commitments to registrants regarding the magnitude of price escalation? If so, please describe your plans.
MWC is committed to providing the domain name registration periods set forth in the Registry Agreement. However, as noted above, as a branded gTLD, the registration and use of the domain name is conditioned upon a qualified subsidiary, affiliate, or licensee⁄strategic partner relationship with Marriott. Therefore, providing contractual commitments in a domain name registrant agreement regarding the magnitude of price escalations does not seem relevant or appropriate. Additionally, as noted above, the current business model envisions MWC providing domain name registrations to Marriott and potentially its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates and licensees and strategic partners at no cost or nominal cost.
MWC acknowledges that the current template Registry Agreement requires that the Registry Operator “shall offer registrars the option to obtain registration periods for one to ten years at the discretion of the registrar.” However, MWC will only be registering domain names for Marriott and potentially its qualified subsidiaries or affiliates and licensees and strategic partners on an annual basis.
MWC Has Properly Researched This Topic
Marriott Worldwide Corporation (“MWC”), a wholly owned entity of Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”), is keenly aware of the sensitivity of national governments in connection with protecting country and territory identifiers in the Domain Name System (DNS). In preparation for answering this question, MWC reviewed the following relevant background material regarding the protection of geographic names in the DNS:
-ICANN Board Resolution 01-92 regarding the methodology developed for the reservation and release of country names in the .INFO top-level domain, http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄minutes⁄minutes-10sep01.htm;
-ICANN’s Proposed Action Plan on .INFO Country Names, see http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄meetings⁄montevideo⁄action-plan-country-names-09oct01.htm;
-“Report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process – The Recognition and Rights and the Use of Names in the Internet Domain Name System,” Section 6, Geographical Identifiers, http:⁄⁄www.wipo.int⁄amc⁄en⁄processes⁄process2⁄report⁄html⁄report.html;
-ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) Principles Regarding New gTLDs, https:⁄⁄gacweb.icann.org⁄download⁄attachments⁄1540128⁄gTLD_principles_0.pdf?version=1&modificationDate=1312358178000; and
-ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization Reserved Names Working Group – Final Report, http:⁄⁄gnso.icann.org⁄issues⁄new-gtlds⁄final-report-rn-wg-23may07.htm.
Initial Reservation of Country and Territory Names
MWC is committed to initially reserving the country and territory names contained in the internationally recognized lists described in Article 5 of Specification 5 attached to the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook, at the second level and at all other levels within the .MARRIOTT generic top-level domain (gTLD), within which MWC will provide for registrations. Specifically, MWC will reserve:
-The short form (in English) of all country and territory names contained on the ISO 3166-1 list, as updated from time to time, including the European Union, which is exceptionally reserved on the ISO 3166-1 list, and its scope extended in August 1999 to any application needing to represent the name European Union, http:⁄⁄www.iso.org⁄iso⁄support⁄country_codes⁄iso_3166_code_lists⁄iso-3166-1_decoding_table.htm#EU;
-The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Part III Names of Countries of the World; and
-The list of United Nations member states in six official United Nations languages prepared by the Working Group on Country Names of the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.
Fair & Non-Misleading Use of Geographical Identifiers
MWC’s parent, Marriott, is a leading global hospitality services company, serving the needs of current and prospective guests around the world through its brands such as Marriott Hotels and Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. Marriott has more than 150,000 employees and approximately 3,150 lodging properties in the United States and more than 68 different countries and territories. Marriott’s content is accessible in the .COM gTLD as well as a variety of ccTLDs such as .CA, .CN, .FR and .JP.
In providing content, offers, and services online, Marriott makes regular use of Internet technology that allows users to quickly find local content and stores. For example, on the Marriott.com website, users have the ability to search for Marriott properties throughout the United States as well as around the world; http:⁄⁄www.Marriott.com⁄.
Given this geographic approach to finding Marriott content, and given that Marriott operates in numerous international markets, MWC intends to explore the option of providing a hierarchical and intuitive framework for the .MARRIOTT namespace by using geographical identifiers as second-level domain names. MWC believes the use of geographical identifiers to the left of the gTLD and as part of the domain name itself has a direct and material impact on search engine algorithms and their corresponding query results. In addition, such naming conventions are intuitive and practiced by direct navigation Internet users (those who type their intended destination into address bars as opposed to search engines). MWC would like to see if this type of hierarchical and intuitive use of second-level domain names within a gTLD provides increased consumer functionality and drive innovation, as premised by ICANN.
Currently, Marriott operates a number of corporate websites using a combination of second-level and top-level domain names. A representative sampling of Marriott websites that incorporate geographical identifiers into the domain name include:
Marriott believes that a .MARRIOTT gTLD can provide an online single-source identifying function for its current and future customers around the world, instead of the present mix-and-match approach that Marriott is currently forced to resort to as it continues to expand into new global markets.
The Legal Protection of Geographical Identifiers
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) authored an authoritative resource on the current state of the law in connection with the protection of geographical identifiers, its 2001 “Report of the Second WIPO Internet Domain Name Process: The Recognition of Rights and the Use of Names in the Internet Domain Name System” (“WIPO Report”). Chapter six of the WIPO Report was devoted exclusively to the protection of geographical identifiers.
From its analysis of the well-established framework against the misuse of geographical identifiers at the international, regional, and national levels, WIPO identified the following two elements for the protection of geographical identifiers: (i) a prohibition of false descriptions of the geographical source of goods; and (ii) a more extensive set of rules prohibiting the misuse of one class of geographical source indicators, known as geographical indications. See WIPO Report (Paragraphs 206 and 210). Neither false descriptions of the geographical source of goods, nor misuse of geographical indications, is present in MWCʹs current or proposed use of geographical identifiers.
Notwithstanding WIPO’s observation that the protection of geographical identifiers is “a difficult area on which views are not only divided, but also ardently held” (Paragraph 237), national governments within the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and other international fora have continued to advocate for increased safeguards to protect against the misuse of geographical identifiers within the DNS.
Marriott, acting as a responsible global business, seeks to avoid business practices that could potentially mislead current and prospective guests and consumers. Marriott believes, however, that it is important to be able to use geographical identifiers in a fair and non-misleading manner, if such use can benefit Internet users as proposed in MWC’s business model.
Fair & Non-Misleading Use of Geographical Identifiers
In undertaking a thorough research of this subject matter prior to filing this application, MWC uncovered the following examples of fair and non-misleading use of geographical identifiers used in the existing gTLD domain name space:
Fair Use of National Geographical Identifiers
AUSTRALIA.COOP – Is operated by Co-operatives Australia, the national body for State Co-operative Federations, and provides a valuable resource about cooperatives within Australia.
UK.COOP – Is operated by Co-operatives UK, the national trade body that campaigns for cooperation and works to promote, develop, and unite cooperative enterprises within the United Kingdom.
NZ.COOP – Is operated by the New Zealand Cooperatives Association, which brings together the country’s cooperative mutual businesses in a not-for-profit incorporated society.
USA.JOBS – Is operated by DirectEmployers Association (DE). While Employ Media, the registry operator of the .JOBS gTLD, is currently in a dispute with ICANN regarding the allocation of this and other domain names, DE has a series of partnerships and programs with the United States Department of Labor, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, and Facebook to help unemployed workers find jobs.
MALDIVIAN.AERO – Is the dominant domestic air carrier in Maldives, and provides a range of commercial and leisure air transport services.
Fair Use of Regional⁄Local Geographic Identifiers
TEXAS.JOBS – Is operated through a joint effort between DE, Texas Workforce Commission, and the National Labor Exchange to connect job seekers with approximately 96,000 job openings. An additional domain name operated by this joint effort was WORKINTEXAS-VETERANS.JOBS, a resource devoted to helping Texas veterans translate their military skills to jobs in the civil marketplace.
BOISE.COOP – Is operated by Boise Co-op, a member-owned cooperative founded in 1973 by a few dozen individuals who shared a mutual interest in buying healthful and organic food at reasonable prices.
HYDERABAD.AERO – Is operated by the Hyderabad International Airport and provides a range of interactive services and information for both business and leisure travelers.
SACRAMENTO.AERO – Is a portal website operated by Sacramento County to provide links to each of the airports serving the Sacramento area: Sacramento International Airport (SMF), Mather Airport (MHR), Executive Airport (SAC), and Franklin Field (F72).
Protection of Regional and Local Geographic Names for Non-Misleading Use
MWC has stated its intention to consider using non-reserved geographic identifiers as part of a hierarchical and intuitive framework in a fair and non-misleading manner to help current and prospective guests navigate the .MARRIOTT namespace. Marriott is committed to operating the .MARRIOTT namespace in a manner that minimizes potential consumer confusion, and will actively work with others in the ICANN community regarding any future policy development in this area.
Potential Future Release of Initially Reserved Names
MWC looks forward to collaborating with other new gTLD registry operators (especially .BRANDs) in potentially working with the GAC to explore processes that could permit the release of initially reserved country names (including ISO-3166 two-characters). Specifically, MWC is interested in exploring other Registry Service Evaluation Processes (RSEP) that have been filed by existing gTLD registry operators in releasing previously reserved domain names.
MWC does not envision any potential disputes from governments or public authorities in connection with the registration and use of geographic names within the .MARRIOTT gTLD based upon its proposed use set forth in the response to Question 18 of this application.
However, MWC is committed to working with governments, public authorities, or IGOs that may have a concern regarding the registration of names with national or geographic significance at the second level within .MARRIOTT. Therefore, should there arise any potential disputes, MWC will take immediate steps to undertake a policy development process, described below.
Creation and Updating the Policies
Should the need arise in the future for the creation or updating of the policies regarding this class of domain names, MWC will act in an open and transparent manner to develop such a policy and⁄or recommendation.
MWC is also committed to the ongoing review and updating of these lists to prevent misleading use of geographical identifiers. Consistent with this commitment, MWC intends to participate in any ongoing ICANN policy discussion regarding the protection of geographic names within the DNS.
Throughout the technical portion (#23 - #44) of this application, answers are provided directly from Afilias, the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Marriott Worldwide Corporation chose Afilias as its back-end provider because Afilias has more experience successfully applying to ICANN and launching new TLDs than any other provider. Afilias is the ICANN-contracted registry operator of the .INFO and .MOBI TLDs, and Afilias is the back-end registry services provider for other ICANN TLDs including .ORG, .ASIA, .AERO, among others.
Registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD will be performed by Afilias in the same responsible manner used to support 16 top level domains today. Afilias supports more ICANN-contracted TLDs (6) than any other provider currently. Afilias’ primary corporate mission is to deliver secure, stable and reliable registry services. The .MARRIOTT gTLD will utilize an existing, proven team and platform for registry services with:
- A stable and secure, state-of-the-art, EPP-based SRS with ample storage capacity, data security provisions, and scalability that is proven with registrars who account for over 95 percent of all gTLD domain name registration activity (over 375 registrars);
- A reliable, 100 percent available DNS service (zone file generation, publication and dissemination) tested to withstand severe DDoS attacks and dramatic growth in Internet use;
- A WHOIS service that is flexible and standards compliant, with search capabilities to address both registrar and end-user needs; includes consideration for evolving standards, such as RESTful, or draft-kucherawy-wierds;
• Experience introducing IDNs in the following languages: German (DE), Spanish (ES), Polish (PL), Swedish (SV), Danish (DA), Hungarian (HU), Icelandic (IS), Latvian (LV), Lithuanian (LT), Korean (KO), Simplified and Traditional Chinese (CN), Devanagari (HI-DEVA), Russian (RU), Belarusian (BE), Ukrainian (UK), Bosnian (BS), Serbian (SR), Macedonian (MK) and Bulgarian (BG) across the TLDs it serves;
- A registry platform that is both IPv6 and DNSSEC enabled;
- An experienced, respected team of professionals active in standards development of innovative services such as DNSSEC and IDN support;
- Methods to limit domain abuse, remove outdated and inaccurate data, and ensure the integrity of the SRS, and;
- Customer support and reporting capabilities to meet financial and administrative needs, e.g., 24x7 call center support, integration support, billing, and daily, weekly, and monthly reporting.
Afilias will support the .MARRIOTT gTLD in accordance with the specific policies and procedures of Marriott Worldwide Corporation (the “registry operator”), leveraging a proven registry infrastructure that is fully operational, staffed with professionals, massively provisioned, and immediately ready to launch and maintain the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
The below response includes a description of the registry services to be provided for the .MARRIOTT gTLD, additional services provided to support registry operations, and an overview of Afilias’ approach to registry management.
Registry services to be provided
To support the .MARRIOTT gTLD, Marriott Worldwide Corporation and Afilias will offer the following registry services, all in accordance with relevant technical standards and policies:
- Receipt of data from registrars concerning registration for domain names and nameservers, and provision to registrars of status information relating to the EPP-based domain services for registration, queries, updates, transfers, renewals, and other domain management functions. Please see our responses to questions #24, #25, and #27 for full details, which we request be incorporated here by reference.
- Operation of the registry DNS servers: The Afilias DNS system, run and managed by Afilias, is a massively provisioned DNS infrastructure that utilizes among the most sophisticated DNS architecture, hardware, software and redundant design created. Afilias’ industry-leading system works in a seamless way to incorporate nameservers from any number of other secondary DNS service vendors. Please see our response to question #35 for full details, which we request be incorporated here by reference.
- Dissemination of TLD zone files: Afilias’ distinctive architecture allows for real-time updates and maximum stability for zone file generation, publication and dissemination. Please see our response to question #34 for full details, which we request be incorporated here by reference.
- Dissemination of contact or other information concerning domain registrations: A port 43 WHOIS service with basic and expanded search capabilities with requisite measures to prevent abuse. Please see our response to question #26 for full details, which we request be incorporated here by reference.
- Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs): Ability to support all protocol valid Unicode characters at every level of the .MARRIOTT gTLD, including alphabetic, ideographic and right-to-left scripts, in conformance with the ICANN IDN Guidelines. Please see our response to question #44 for full details, which we request be incorporated here by reference.
- DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC): A fully DNSSEC-enabled registry, with a stable and efficient means of signing and managing zones. This includes the ability to safeguard keys and manage keys completely. Please see our response to question #43 for full details, which we request be incorporated here by reference.
Each service will meet or exceed the contract service level agreement. All registry services for this TLD will be provided in a standards-compliant manner.
Afilias addresses security in every significant aspect – physical, data and network as well as process. Afilias’ approach to security permeates every aspect of the registry services provided. A dedicated security function exists within the company to continually identify existing and potential threats, and to put in place comprehensive mitigation plans for each identified threat. In addition, a rapid security response plan exists to respond comprehensively to unknown or unidentified threats. The specific threats and Afilias mitigation plans are defined in our response to question #30(b); please see that response for complete information. In short, Afilias is committed to ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all information.
New registry services
One potential unique service that Marriott Worldwide Corporation is considering at this time is the imposition of an annual cost recovery based fee to validate registrars that will be providing domain name registration services in the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
An additional service which Marriott Worldwide Corporation may offer, commonly used in the marketplace today, is the use of RFPs (Request for Proposals) and Auctions to determine string allocation in appropriate circumstances.
Additional services to support registry operation
Numerous supporting services and functions facilitate effective management of the TLD. These support services are also supported by Afilias, including:
- Customer support: 24x7 live phone and e-mail support for customers to address any access, update or other issues they may encounter. This includes assisting the customer identification of the problem as well as solving it. Customers include registrars and Marriott Worldwide Corporation, but not registrants except in unusual circumstances. Customers have access to a web-based portal for a rapid and transparent view of the status of pending issues.
- Financial services: billing and account reconciliation for all registry services according to pricing established in respective agreements.
Reporting is an important component of supporting registry operations. Afilias will provide reporting to the Marriott Worldwide Corporation and registrars, and financial reporting.
Reporting provided to Marriott Worldwide Corporation
Afilias provides an extensive suite of reports to Marriott Worldwide Corporation, including daily, weekly and monthly reports with data at the transaction level that enable Marriott Worldwide Corporation to track and reconcile at whatever level of detail preferred. Afilias provides the exact data required by ICANN in the required format to enable Marriott Worldwide Corporation to meet its technical reporting requirements to ICANN.
In addition, Afilias offers access to a data warehouse capability that will enable near real-time data to be available 24x7. This can be arranged by informing the Afilias Account Manager regarding who should have access. Afilias’ data warehouse capability enables drill-down analytics all the way to the transaction level.
Reporting available to registrars
Afilias provides an extensive suite of reporting to registrars and has been doing so in an exemplary manner for more than ten years. Specifically, Afilias provides daily, weekly and monthly reports with detail at the transaction level to enable registrars to track and reconcile at whatever level of detail they prefer.
Reports are provided in standard formats, facilitating import for use by virtually any registrar analytical tool. Registrar reports are available for download via a secure administrative interface. A given registrar will only have access to its own reports. These include the following:
• Daily Reports: Transaction Report, Billable Transactions Report, and Transfer Reports;
• Weekly: Domain Status and Nameserver Report, Weekly Nameserver Report, Domains Hosted by Nameserver Weekly Report, and;
• Monthly: Billing Report and Monthly Expiring Domains Report.
Weekly registrar reports are maintained for each registrar for four weeks. Weekly reports older than four weeks will be archived for a period of six months, after which they will be deleted.
Registrar account balances are updated real-time when payments and withdrawals are posted to the registrarsʹ accounts. In addition, the registrar account balances are updated as and when they perform billable transactions at the registry level.
Afilias provides Deposit⁄Withdrawal Reports that are updated periodically to reflect payments received or credits and withdrawals posted to the registrar accounts.
The following reports are also available: a) Daily Billable Transaction Report, containing details of all the billable transactions performed by all the registrars in the SRS, b) daily e-mail reports containing the number of domains in the registry and a summary of the number and types of billable transactions performed by the registrars, and c) Marriott Worldwide Corporation versions of most registrar reports (for example, a daily Transfer Report that details all transfer activity between all of the registrars in the SRS).
Afilias approach to registry support
Afilias, the back end registry services provider for the .MARRIOTT gTLD, is dedicated to managing the technical operations and support of the .MARRIOTT gTLD in a secure, stable and reliable manner. Afilias has worked closely with Marriott Worldwide Corporation to review specific needs and objectives of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. The resulting comprehensive plans are illustrated in technical responses #24-44, drafted by Afilias given Marriott Worldwide Corporation requirements. Afilias and Marriott Worldwide Corporation also worked together to provide financial responses for this application which demonstrate cost and technology consistent with the size and objectives of the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Afilias is the registry services provider for the .MARRIOTT gTLD and several other TLD applications. Over the past 11 years of providing services for gTLD and ccTLDs, Afilias has accumulated experience about resourcing levels necessary to provide high quality services with conformance to strict service requirements. Afilias currently supports over 20 million domain names, spread across 16 TLDs, with over 400 accredited registrars.
Since its founding, Afilias is focused on delivering secure, stable and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of this TLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of our staff in a focused way.
With over a decade of registry experience, Afilias has the depth and breadth of experience that ensure existing and new needs are addressed, all while meeting or exceeding service level requirements and customer expectations. This is evident in Afilias’ participation in business, policy and technical organizations supporting registry and Internet technology within ICANN and related organizations. This allows Afilias to be at the forefront of security initiatives such as: DNSSEC, wherein Afilias worked with Public Interest Registry (PIR) to make the .ORG registry the first DNSSEC enabled gTLD and the largest TLD enabled at the time; in enhancing the Internet experience for users across the globe by leading development of IDNs; in pioneering the use of open-source technologies by its usage of PostgreSQL, and; being the first to offer near-real-time dissemination of DNS zone data.
The ability to observe tightening resources for critical functions and the capacity to add extra resources ahead of a threshold event are factors that Afilias is well versed in. Afilias’ human resources team, along with well-established relationships with external organizations, enables it to fill both long-term and short-term resource needs expediently.
Afilias’ growth from a few domains to serving 20 million domain names across 16 TLDs and 400 accredited registrars indicates that the relationship between the number of people required and the volume of domains supported is not linear. In other words, servicing 100 TLDs does not automatically require 6 times more staff than servicing 16 TLDs. Similarly, an increase in the number of domains under management does not require in a linear increase in resources. Afilias carefully tracks the relationship between resources deployed and domains to be serviced, and pro-actively reviews this metric in order to retain a safe margin of error. This enables Afilias to add, train and prepare new staff well in advance of the need, allowing consistent delivery of high quality services.
Answers for this Question 24 are provided directly from Afilias, Limited (ʺAfiliasʺ) the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Afilias operates a state-of-the-art EPP-based Shared Registration System (SRS) that is secure, stable and reliable. The SRS is a critical component of registry operations that must balance the business requirements for the registry and its customers, such as numerous domain acquisition and management functions. The SRS meets or exceeds all ICANN requirements given that Afilias:
-Operates a secure, stable and reliable SRS which updates in real-time and in full compliance with Specification 6 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement;
-Is committed to continuously enhancing its SRS to meet existing and future needs;
-Currently exceeds contractual requirements and will perform in compliance with Specification 10 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement;
-Provides SRS functionality and staff, financial, and other resources to more than adequately meet the technical needs of the .MARRIOTT gTLD, and;
-Manages the SRS with a team of experienced technical professionals who can seamlessly integrate this gTLD into the Afilias registry platform and support the .MARRIOTT gTLD in a secure, stable, and reliable manner.
Description of operation of the SRS, including diagrams
Afilias’ SRS provides the same advanced functionality as that used in the .INFO and .ORG registries, as well as the fourteen other TLDs currently supported by Afilias. The Afilias registry system is standards-compliant and utilizes proven technology, ensuring global familiarity for registrars, and it is protected by Afiliasʹ massively provisioned infrastructure that mitigates the risk of disaster.
EPP functionality is described fully in the response to Question 25 of this application; consider those answers incorporated here by reference. An abbreviated list of Afiliasʹ SRS functionality includes:
-Domain registration: Afilias provides registration of names in the .MARRIOTT gTLD, in both ASCII and IDN forms, to accredited registrars via EPP and a Web-based administration tool.
-Domain renewal: Afilias provides services that allow registrars the ability to renew domains under sponsorship at any time. Further, the registry performs the automated renewal of all domain names at the expiration of their term, and allows registrars to rescind automatic renewals within a specified number of days after the transaction for a full refund.
-Transfer: Afilias provides efficient and automated procedures to facilitate the transfer of sponsorship of a domain name between accredited registrars. Further, the registry enables bulk transfers of domains under the provisions of the Registry-Registrar Agreement.
-RGP and restoring deleted domain registrations: Afilias provides support for the Redemption Grace Period (RGP) as needed, enabling the restoration of deleted registrations.
-Other grace periods and conformance with ICANN guidelines: Afilias provides support for other grace periods that are evolving as standard practice inside the ICANN community. In addition, the Afilias registry system supports the evolving ICANN guidelines on IDNs.
Afilias also supports the basic check, delete, and modify commands.
As required for all new gTLDs, Afilias provides “thick” registry system functionality. In this model, all key contact details for each domain are stored in the registry. This allows better access to domain data and provides uniformity in storing the information.
Afilias’ SRS complies today, and will continue to comply, with global best practices including relevant RFCs, ICANN requirements, and the .MARRIOTT gTLDʹs respective domain policies. With over a decade of experience, Afilias has fully documented and tested policies and procedures, and its highly skilled team members are active participants of the major relevant technology and standards organizations, so ICANN can be assured that SRS performance and compliance are met. Full details regarding the SRS system and network architecture are provided in the responses to Questions 31 and 32 of this application; consider those answers incorporated here by reference.
SRS servers and software
All applications and databases for the .MARRIOTT gTLD will run in a virtual environment currently hosted by a cluster of servers equipped with the latest Intel Westmere multi-core processors. (It is possible that by the time this application is evaluated and systems deployed, Westmere processors may no longer be the “latest”; the Afilias policy is to use the most advanced, stable technology available at the time of deployment.) The data for the registry will be stored on storage arrays of solid state drives shared over a fast storage area network. The virtual environment allows the infrastructure to easily scale both vertically and horizontally to cater to changing demand. It also facilitates effective utilization of system resources, thus reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint.
The network firewalls, routers and switches support all applications and servers. Hardware traffic shapers are used to enforce an equitable access policy for connections coming from registrars. The registry system accommodates both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Hardware load balancers accelerate TLS⁄SSL handshaking and distribute load among a pool of application servers.
Each of the servers and network devices are equipped with redundant, hot-swappable components and multiple connections to ancillary systems. Additionally, 24x7 support agreements with a four-hour response time at all Afilias data centers guarantee replacement of failed parts in the shortest time possible.
Examples of current system and network devices used are:
-Servers: Cisco UCS B230 blade servers
-SAN storage arrays: IBM Storwize V7000 with Solid State Drives
-SAN switches: Brocade 5100
-Firewalls: Cisco ASA 5585-X
-Load balancers: F5 Big-IP 6900
-Traffic shapers: Procera PacketLogic PL8720
-Routers: Juniper MX40 3D
-Network switches: Cisco Nexus 7010, Nexus 5548, Nexus 2232
These system components are upgraded and updated as required, and have usage and performance thresholds that trigger upgrade review points. In each data center, there is a minimum of two of each network component, a minimum of 25 servers, and a minimum of two storage arrays.
Technical components of the SRS include the following items, continually checked and upgraded as needed: SRS, WHOIS, Web admin tool, DNS, DNS distributor, reporting, invoicing tools, and deferred revenue system (as needed).
All hardware is massively provisioned to ensure stability under all forecast volumes from launch through “normal” operations of average daily and peak capacities. Each and every system application, server, storage and network device is continuously monitored by the Afilias Network Operations Center for performance and availability. The data gathered is used by dynamic predictive analysis tools in real-time to raise alerts for unusual resource demands. Should any volumes exceed established thresholds, a capacity planning review is instituted which will address the need for additions well in advance of their actual need.
SRS diagram and interconnectivity description
As with all core registry services, the SRS is run from a global cluster of registry system data centers, located in geographic centers with high Internet bandwidth, power, redundancy and availability. All of the registry systems will be run in a 〈n+1〉 setup, with a primary data center and a secondary data center. For detailed site information, see the responses to Questions 32 and 35 of this application. Registrars access the SRS in real-time using EPP.
A sample of the Afilias SRS technical and operational capabilities (displayed in Figure 24-a) include:
-Geographically diverse redundant registry systems;
-Load balancing implemented for all registry services (e.g. EPP, WHOIS, Web admin) ensuring equal experience for all customers and easy horizontal scalability;
-Disaster Recovery Point objective for the registry is within one minute of the loss of the primary system;
-Detailed and tested contingency plan, in case of primary site failure, and;
-Daily reports, with secure access for confidentiality protection.
As evidenced in Figure 24-a, the SRS contains several components of the registry system. The interconnectivity ensures near-real-time distribution of the data throughout the registry infrastructure, timely backups, and up-to-date billing information.
The WHOIS servers are directly connected to the registry database and provide real-time responses to queries using the most up-to-date information present in the registry.
Committed DNS-related EPP objects in the database are made available to the DNS Distributor via a dedicated set of connections. The DNS Distributor extracts committed DNS-related EPP objects in real time and immediately inserts them into the zone for dissemination.
The Afilias system is architected such that read-only database connections are executed on database replicas and connections to the database master (where write-access is executed) are carefully protected to ensure high availability.
This interconnectivity is monitored, as is the entire registry system, according to the plans detailed in the response to Question 42 of this application.
Registry databases are synchronized both within the same data center and in the backup data center using a database application called Slony. For further details, see the responses to Questions 33 and 37 of this application. Slony replication of transactions from the publisher (master) database to its subscribers (replicas) works continuously to ensure the publisher and its subscribers remain synchronized. When the publisher database completes a transaction, the Slony replication system ensures that each replica also processes the transaction. When there are no transactions to process, Slony “sleeps” until a transaction arrives or for one minute, whichever comes first. Slony “wakes up” each minute to confirm with the publisher that there has not been a transaction and thus ensures subscribers are synchronized and the replication time lag is minimized. The typical replication time lag between the publisher and subscribers depends on the topology of the replication cluster, specifically the location of the subscribers relative to the publisher. Subscribers located in the same data center as the publisher are typically updated within a couple of seconds, and subscribers located in a secondary data center are typically updated in less than ten seconds. This ensures real-time or near-real-time synchronization between all databases, and in the case where the secondary data center needs to be activated, it can be done with minimal disruption to registrars.
SRS SLA performance compliance
Afilias has a ten-year record of delivering on the demanding ICANN SLAs, and will continue to provide secure, stable and reliable service in compliance with SLA requirements as specified in the new gTLD Registry Agreement, Specification 10, as presented in Figure 24-b.
The Afilias SRS currently handles over 200 million EPP transactions per month for just .INFO and .ORG. Overall, the Afilias SRS manages over 700 million EPP transactions per month for all TLDs under management.
Given this robust functionality, and more than a decade of experience supporting a thick TLD registry with a strong performance history, Afilias, on behalf of Marriott Worldwide Corporation, will meet or exceed the performance metrics in Specification 10 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement. The Afilias services and infrastructure are designed to scale both vertically and horizontally without any downtime to provide consistent performance as .MARRIOTT grows. The Afilias architecture is also massively provisioned to meet seasonal demands and marketing campaigns. Afilias’ experience also gives high confidence in the ability to scale and grow registry operations for the .MARRIOTT gTLD in a secure, stable and reliable manner.
SRS resourcing plans
Since its founding, Afilias is focused on delivering secure, stable and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of its staff in a focused way.
Over 100 Afilias team members contribute to the management of the SRS code and network that will support the .MARRIOTT gTLD. The SRS team is composed of Software Engineers, Quality Assurance Analysts, Application Administrators, System Administrators, Storage Administrators, Network Administrators, Database Administrators, and Security Analysts located at three geographically separate Afilias facilities. The systems and services set up and administered by these team members are monitored 24x7 by skilled analysts at two NOCs located in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) and Horsham, Pennsylvania (USA). In addition to these team members, Afilias also utilizes trained project management staff to maintain various calendars, work breakdown schedules, utilization and resource schedules and other tools to support the technical and management staff. It is this team who will both deploy the .MARRIOTT gTLD on the Afilias infrastructure, and maintain it. Together, the Afilias team has managed 11 registry transitions and six new TLD launches, which illustrate its ability to securely and reliably deliver regularly scheduled updates as well as a secure, stable and reliable SRS service for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Answers for this question (#25) are provided by Afilias, the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Afilias has been a pioneer and innovator in the use of EPP. .INFO was the first EPP-based gTLD registry and launched on EPP version 02⁄00. Afilias has a track record of supporting TLDs on standards-compliant versions of EPP. Afilias will operate the EPP registrar interface as well as a web-based interface for the .MARRIOTT gTLD in accordance with RFCs and global best practices. In addition, Afilias will maintain a proper OT&E (Operational Testing and Evaluation) environment to facilitate registrar system development and testing.
Afilias’ EPP technical performance meets or exceeds all ICANN requirements as demonstrated by:
- A completely functional, state-of-the-art, EPP-based SRS that currently meets the needs of various TLDs and will meet this new .MARRIOTT gTLD’s needs;
- A track record of success in developing extensions to meet client and registrar business requirements such as multi-script support for IDNs;
- Supporting six ICANN gTLDs on EPP, e.g., .INFO, .ORG, and .MOBI
- EPP software that is operating today and has been fully tested to be standards-compliant;
- Proven interoperability of existing EPP software with ICANN-accredited registrars, and;
- An SRS that currently processes over 200 million EPP transactions per month for both .INFO and .ORG. Overall, Afilias processes over 700 million EPP transactions per month for all 16 TLDs under management.
The EPP service is offered in accordance with the performance specifications defined in the new gTLD Registry Agreement, Specification 10.
The Afilias registry system complies with the following revised versions of the RFCs and operates multiple ICANN TLDs on these standards, including .INFO, .ORG, and .MOBI. The systems have been tested by our Quality Assurance (“QA”) team for RFC compliance, and have been used by registrars for an extended period of time:
- 3735 - Guidelines for Extending EPP
- 3915 - Domain Registry Grace Period Mapping
- 5730 - Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP)
- 5731 - Domain Name Mapping
- 5732 - Host Mapping
- 5733 - Contact Mapping
- 5734 - Transport Over TCP
- 5910 - Domain Name System (DNS) Security Extensions Mapping for the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP)
The .MARRIOTT gTLD will support all valid EPP commands. The following EPP commands are in operation today and will be made available for this TLD. See attachment #25A for the base set of EPP commands and copies of Afilias XSD schema files, which define all the rules of valid, RFC compliant EPP commands and responses that Afilias supports. Any customized EPP extensions, if necessary, will also conform to relevant RFCs.
Afilias staff members actively participated in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) process that finalized the new standards for EPP. Afilias will continue to actively participate in the IETF and will stay abreast of any updates to the EPP standards.
EPP Software Interface and Functionality
Afilias will provide all registrars with a free open-source EPP toolkit. Afilias provides this software for use with both Microsoft Windows and Unix⁄Linux operating systems. This software, which includes all relevant templates and schema defined in the RFCs, is available on sourceforge.net and will be available through Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s website.
Afilias’ SRS EPP software complies with all relevant RFCs and includes the following functionality:
- EPP Greeting: A response to a successful connection returns a greeting to the client. Information exchanged can include: name of server, server date and time in UTC, server features, e.g., protocol versions supported, languages for the text response supported, and one or more elements which identify the objects that the server is capable of managing;
- Session management controls: 〈login〉 to establish a connection with a server, and 〈logout〉 to end a session;
- EPP Objects: Domain, Host and Contact for respective mapping functions;
- EPP Object Query Commands: Info, Check, and Transfer (query) commands to retrieve object information, and;
- EPP Object Transform Commands: five commands to transform objects: 〈create〉 to create an instance of an object, 〈delete〉 to remove an instance of an object, 〈renew〉 to extend the validity period of an object, 〈update〉 to change information associated with an object, and 〈transfer〉 to manage changes in client sponsorship of a known object.
Currently, 100 percent of the top domain name registrars in the world have software that has already been tested and certified to be compatible with the Afilias SRS registry. In total, over 375 registrars, representing over 95 percent of all registration volume worldwide, operate software that has been certified compatible with the Afilias SRS registry. Afilias’ EPP Registrar Acceptance Criteria are available in attachment #25B, EPP OT&E Criteria.
Free EPP Software Support
Afilias analyzes and diagnoses registrar EPP activity log files as needed and is available to assist registrars who may require technical guidance regarding how to fix repetitive errors or exceptions caused by misconfigured client software.
Registrars are responsible for acquiring a TLS⁄SSL certificate from an approved certificate authority, as the registry-registrar communication channel requires mutual authentication; Afilias will acquire and maintain the server-side TLS⁄SSL certificate. The registrar is responsible for developing support for TLS⁄SSL in their client application. Afilias will provide free guidance for registrars unfamiliar with this requirement.
Registrar Data Synchronization
There are two methods available for registrars to synchronize their data with the registry:
- Automated synchronization: Registrars can, at any time, use the EPP 〈info〉 command to obtain definitive data from the registry for a known object, including domains, hosts (nameservers) and contacts.
- Personalized synchronization: A registrar may contact technical support and request a data file containing all domains (and associated host (nameserver) and contact information) registered by that registrar, within a specified time interval. The data will be formatted as a comma separated values (CSV) file and made available for download using a secure server.
There are no unique EPP modifications planned for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
All ICANN gTLDs must offer a Sunrise as part of a rights protection program. Afilias uses EPP extensions that allow registrars to submit trademark and other intellectual property rights (IPR) data to the registry. These extensions are:
- An 〈ipr:name〉 element that indicates the name of Registered Mark.
- An 〈ipr:number〉 element that indicates the registration number of the IPR.
- An 〈ipr:ccLocality〉 element that indicates the origin for which the IPR is established (a national or international trademark registry).
- An 〈ipr:entitlement〉 element that indicates whether the applicant holds the trademark as the original “OWNER”, “CO-OWNER” or “ASSIGNEE”.
- An 〈ipr:appDate〉 element that indicates the date the Registered Mark was applied for.
- An 〈ipr:regDate〉 element that indicates the date the Registered Mark was issued and registered.
- An 〈ipr:class〉 element that indicates the class of the registered mark.
- An 〈ipr:type〉 element that indicates the Sunrise phase the application applies for.
Note that some of these extensions might be subject to change based on ICANN-developed requirements for the Trademark Clearinghouse.
EPP Resourcing Plans
Since its founding, Afilias has been focused on delivering secure, stable, and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of our staff in a focused way.
108 Afilias team members directly contribute to the management and development of the EPP based registry systems. As previously noted, Afilias is an active member of IETF and has a long documented history developing and enhancing EPP. These contributors include 11 developers and 14 QA engineers focused on maintaining and enhancing EPP server side software. These engineers work directly with business staff to timely address existing needs and forecast registry⁄registrar needs to ensure the Afilias EPP software is effective today and into the future. A team of eight data analysts works with the EPP software system to ensure that the data flowing through EPP is securely and reliably stored in replicated database systems. In addition to the EPP developers, QA engineers, and data analysts, other EPP contributors at Afilias include: Technical Analysts, the Network Operations Center and Data Services team members.
Answers for this Question 26 are provided by Afilias Limited (ʺAfiliasʺ), the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Afilias operates the WHOIS (registration data directory service) infrastructure in accordance with RFCs and global best practices, as it does for the 16 TLDs it currently supports. Designed to be robust and scalable, Afilias’ WHOIS service has exceeded all contractual requirements for over a decade. It has extended search capabilities, and methods of limiting abuse.
The WHOIS service operated by Afilias meets and exceeds ICANN’s requirements. Specifically, Afilias will:
-Offer a WHOIS service made available on port 43 that is flexible and standards- compliant;
-Comply with all ICANN policies, and meeting or exceeding WHOIS performance requirements in Specification 10 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement;
-Enable a Searchable WHOIS with extensive search capabilities that offers ease of use while enforcing measures to mitigate access abuse, and;
-Employ a team with significant experience managing a compliant WHOIS service.
Such extensive knowledge and experience managing a WHOIS service enables Afilias to offer a comprehensive plan for the .MARRIOTT gTLD that meets the needs of constituents of the domain name industry and Internet users. The service has been tested by Afiliasʹ QA team for RFC compliance, and has been used by registrars and many other parties for an extended period of time. Afilias’ WHOIS service currently serves almost 500 million WHOIS queries per month, with the capacity already built in to handle an order of magnitude increase in WHOIS queries, and the ability to smoothly scale should greater growth be needed.
WHOIS system description and diagram
The Afilias WHOIS system, depicted in Figure 26-a, is designed with robustness, availability, compliance, and performance in mind. Additionally, the system has provisions for detecting abusive usage (e.g., excessive numbers of queries from one source). The WHOIS system is generally intended as a publicly available single object lookup system. Afilias uses an advanced, persistent caching system to ensure extremely fast query response times.
Afilias will develop restricted WHOIS functions based on specific domain policy and regulatory requirements as needed for operating the business (as long as they are standards compliant). It will also be possible for contact and registrant information to be returned according to regulatory requirements. The WHOIS database supports multiple string and field searching through a reliable, free, secure, Web-based interface.
Data objects, interfaces, access, and lookups
Registrars can provide an input form on their public websites through which a visitor is able to perform WHOIS queries. The Marriott Worldwide Corporation can also provide a Web-based search on its site. The input form must accept the string to query, along with the necessary input elements to select the object type and interpretation controls. This input form sends its data to the Afilias port 43 WHOIS server. The results from the WHOIS query are returned by the server and displayed in the visitor’s Web browser. The sole purpose of the Web interface is to provide a user-friendly interface for WHOIS queries.
Afilias will provide WHOIS output as per Specification 4 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement. The output for domain records generally consists of the following elements:
-The name of the domain registered and the sponsoring registrar;
-The names of the primary and secondary nameserver(s) for the registered domain name;
-The creation date, registration status and expiration date of the registration;
-The name, postal address, e-mail address, and telephone and fax numbers of the domain name holder;
-The name, postal address, e-mail address, and telephone and fax numbers of the technical contact for the domain name holder;
-The name, postal address, e-mail address, and telephone and fax numbers of the administrative contact for the domain name holder, and;
-The name, postal address, e-mail address, and telephone and fax numbers of the billing contact for the domain name holder.
The following additional features are also present in Afilias’ WHOIS service:
-Support for IDNs, including the language tag and the Punycode representation of the IDN in addition to Unicode Hex and Unicode HTML formats;
-Enhanced support for privacy protection relative to the display of confidential information.
Afilias will also provide sophisticated WHOIS search functionality that includes the ability to conduct multiple string and field searches.
For all WHOIS queries, a user is required to enter the character string representing the information for which they want to search. The object type and interpretation control parameters to limit the search may also be specified. If object type or interpretation control parameter is not specified, WHOIS will search for the character string in the Name field of the Domain object.
WHOIS queries are required to be either an ʺexact searchʺ or a ʺpartial search,ʺ both of which are insensitive to the case of the input string.
An exact search specifies the full string to search for in the database field. An exact match between the input string and the field value is required.
A partial search specifies the start of the string to search for in the database field. Every record with a search field that starts with the input string is considered a match. By default, if multiple matches are found for a query, then a summary containing up to 50 matching results is presented. A second query is required to retrieve the specific details of one of the matching records.
If only a single match is found, then full details will be provided. Full detail consists of the data in the matching object as well as the data in any associated objects. For example: a query that results in a domain object includes the data from the associated host and contact objects.
WHOIS query controls fall into two categories: those that specify the type of field, and those that modify the interpretation of the input or determine the level of output to provide. Each is described below.
The following keywords restrict a search to a specific object type:
-Domain: Searches only domain objects. The input string is searched in the Name field.
-Host: Searches only nameserver objects. The input string is searched in the Name field and the IP Address field.
-Contact: Searches only contact objects. The input string is searched in the ID field.
-Registrar: Searches only registrar objects. The input string is searched in the Name field.
-By default, if no object type control is specified, then the Name field of the Domain object is searched.
In addition, Afilias WHOIS systems can perform and respond to WHOIS searches by registrant name, postal address, and contact names. Deployment of these features is provided as an option to the Marriott Worldwide Corporation, based upon registry policy and business decision making.
Figure 26-b presents the keywords that modify the interpretation of the input or determine the level of output to provide.
By default, if no interpretation control keywords are used, the output will include full details if a single match is found and a summary if multiple matches are found.
Unique .MARRIOTT gTLD requirements
There are no unique WHOIS requirements for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Sunrise WHOIS processes
All ICANN TLDs must offer a Sunrise as part of a rights protection program. Afilias uses EPP extensions that allow registrars to submit trademark and other intellectual property rights (IPR) data to the registry. The following corresponding data will be displayed in WHOIS for relevant domains:
-Trademark Name: element that indicates the name of the Registered Mark.
-Trademark Number: element that indicates the registration number of the IPR.
-Trademark Locality: element that indicates the origin for which the IPR is established (a national or international trademark registry).
-Trademark Entitlement: element that indicates whether the applicant holds the trademark as the original “OWNER”, “CO-OWNER” or “ASSIGNEE”.
-Trademark Application Date: element that indicates the date the Registered Mark was applied for.
-Trademark Registration Date: element that indicates the date the Registered Mark was issued and registered.
-Trademark Class: element that indicates the class of the Registered Mark.
-IPR Type: element that indicates the Sunrise phase the application applies for.
IT and infrastructure resources
All the applications and databases for the .MARRIOTT gTLD will run in a virtual environment hosted by a cluster of servers equipped with the latest Intel Westmere multi-core processors (or a more advanced, stable technology available at the time of deployment). The registry data will be stored on storage arrays of solid-state drives shared over a fast storage area network. The virtual environment allows the infrastructure to easily scale both vertically and horizontally to cater to changing demand. It also facilitates effective utilization of system resources thus reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint.
The applications and servers are supported by network firewalls, routers and switches.
The WHOIS system accommodates both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.
Each of the servers and network devices are equipped with redundant hot-swappable components and multiple connections to ancillary systems. Additionally, 24x7 support agreements with our hardware vendor with a 4-hour response time at all our data centers guarantees replacement of failed parts in the shortest time possible.
Models of system and network devices used are:
-Servers: Cisco UCS B230 blade servers
-SAN storage arrays: IBM Storwize V7000 with Solid State Drives
-Firewalls: Cisco ASA 5585-X
-Load balancers: F5 Big-IP 6900
-Traffic shapers: Procera PacketLogic PL8720
-Routers: Juniper MX40 3D
-Network switches: Cisco Nexus 7010, Nexus 5548, Nexus 2232
There will be at least four virtual machines (VMs) offering WHOIS service. Each VM will run at least two WHOIS server instances, one for registrars and one for the public. All instances of the WHOIS service is made available to registrars and the public are rate limited to mitigate abusive behavior.
Frequency of synchronization between servers
Registration data records from the EPP publisher database will be replicated to the WHOIS system database on a near-real-time basis whenever an update occurs.
Specifications 4 and 10 compliance
The WHOIS service for the .MARRIOTT gTLD will meet or exceed the performance requirements in the new gTLD Registry Agreement, Specification 10. Figure 26-c provides the exact measurements and commitments. Afilias has a ten year track record of exceeding WHOIS performance and a skilled team to ensure this continues for all TLDs under management.
The WHOIS service for the .MARRIOTT gTLD will meet or exceed the requirements in the new gTLD Registry Agreement, Specification 4.
RFC 3912 compliance
Afilias will operate the WHOIS infrastructure in compliance with RFCs and global best practices, as it does with the 16 TLDs Afilias currently supports.
Afilias maintains a registry-level centralized WHOIS database that contains information for every registered domain and for all host and contact objects. The WHOIS service will be available on the Internet standard WHOIS port (port 43) in compliance with RFC 3912. The WHOIS service contains data submitted by registrars during the registration process. Changes made to the data by a registrant are submitted to Afilias by the registrar and are reflected in the WHOIS database and service in near-real-time, by the instance running at the primary data center, and in under ten seconds by the instance running at the secondary data center, thus providing all interested parties with up-to-date information for every domain. This service is compliant with the new gTLD Registry Agreement, Specification 4.
The WHOIS service maintained by Afilias will be authoritative and complete, as this will be a “thick” registry (detailed domain contact WHOIS is all held at the registry); users do not have to query different registrars for WHOIS information, as there is one central WHOIS system. Additionally, visibility of different types of data is configurable to meet Marriott Worldwide Corporationʹs needs.
Afilias offers a searchable WHOIS on a Web-based Directory Service. Partial match capabilities are offered on the following fields: domain name, registrar ID, and IP address. In addition, Afilias WHOIS systems can perform and respond to WHOIS searches by registrant name, postal address, and contact names.
Providing the ability to search important and high-value fields such as registrant name, address, and contact names increases the probability of abusive behavior. An abusive user could script a set of queries to the WHOIS service and access contact data in order to create or sell a list of names and addresses of registrants in the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Making the WHOIS machine readable, while preventing harvesting and mining of WHOIS data, is a key requirement integrated into the Afilias WHOIS systems. For instance, Afilias limits search returns to 50 records at a time. If bulk queries were ever necessary (e.g., to comply with any applicable laws, government rules, or requirements, requests of law enforcement, or any dispute resolution process), Afilias makes such query responses available to carefully screened and limited staff members at the Registry Operator (and customer support staff) via an internal data warehouse. The Afilias WHOIS system accommodates anonymous access as well as pre-identified and profile-defined uses, with full audit and log capabilities.
The WHOIS service has the ability to tag query responses with labels such as “Do not redistribute” or “Special access granted”. This may allow for tiered response and reply scenarios. Further, the WHOIS service is configurable in parameters and fields returned, which allow for flexibility in compliance with various jurisdictions, regulations, or laws.
Afilias offers exact-match capabilities on the following fields: registrar ID, nameserver name, and nameserver’s IP address (only applies to IP addresses stored by the registry, i.e., glue records). Search capabilities are fully available, and results include domain names matching the search criteria (including IDN variants). Afilias manages abuse prevention through rate limiting and CAPTCHA (described below). Queries do not require specialized transformations of internationalized domain names or internationalized data fields.
Please see “Query Controls” above for details about search options and capabilities.
Deterring WHOIS abuse
Afilias has adopted two best practices to prevent abuse of the WHOIS service: rate limiting and CAPTCHA.
Abuse of WHOIS services on port 43 and via the Web is subject to an automated rate-limiting system. This ensures that uniformity of service to users is unaffected by a few parties whose activities abuse or otherwise might threaten to overload the WHOIS system.
Abuse of Web-based public WHOIS services is subject to the use of CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) technology. The use of CAPTCHA ensures that uniformity of service to users is unaffected by a few parties whose activities abuse or otherwise might threaten to overload the WHOIS system. Marriott Worldwide Corporation will adopt a CAPTCHA on its Web-based WHOIS.
Data mining of any sort on the WHOIS system is strictly prohibited, and this prohibition is published in WHOIS output and in terms of service.
For rate limiting on IPv4, there are configurable limits per IP and subnet. For IPv6, the traditional limitations do not apply. Whenever a unique IPv6 IP address exceeds the limit of WHOIS queries per minute, the same rate-limit for the given 64 bits of network prefix that the offending IPv6 IP address falls into will be applied. At the same time, a timer will start and rate-limit validation logic will identify if there are any other IPv6 address within the original 80-bit(⁄48) prefix. If another offending IPv6 address does fall into the ⁄48 prefix then rate-limit validation logic will penalize any other IPv6 addresses that fall into that given 80-bit (⁄48) network. As a security precaution, Afilias will not disclose these limits.
Pre-identified and profile-driven role access allows greater granularity and configurability in both access to the WHOIS service, and in volume⁄frequency of responses returned for queries.
Afilias staff are key participants in the ICANN Security & Stability Advisory Committee’s deliberations and outputs on WHOIS, including SAC003 (See http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄groups⁄ssac⁄documents⁄sac-003-en.pdf), SAC027 (See http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄groups⁄ssac⁄documents⁄sac-027-en.pdf ), SAC033 (See http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄groups⁄ssac⁄documents⁄sac-033-en.pdf ), SAC037 (See http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄groups⁄ssac⁄documents⁄sac-037-en.pdf), SAC040 (See http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄groups⁄ssac⁄documents⁄sac-040-en.pdf), and SAC051 (See http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄groups⁄ssac⁄documents⁄sac-051-en.pdf). Afilias staff members are active participants in both technical and policy decision making in ICANN, aimed at restricting abusive behavior.
WHOIS staff resourcing plans
Since its founding, Afilias is focused on delivering secure, stable, and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of its staff in a focused way.
Within Afilias, there are 11 staff members who develop and maintain the compliant WHOIS systems. They keep pace with access requirements, thwart abuse, and continually develop software. Of these resources, approximately two staff member are typically required for WHOIS-related code customization. Other resources provide quality assurance, and operations personnel maintain the WHOIS system itself. This team will be responsible for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD WHOIS service.
Answers for this question (#27) are provided by Afilias, the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Afilias has been managing registrations for over a decade and supports comprehensive registration lifecycle services, including the registration states, all standard grace periods, and can address any modifications required with the introduction of any new ICANN policies.
The .MARRIOTT gTLD will follow the ICANN standard domain lifecycle, as is currently implemented in TLDs such as .ORG and .INFO. The below response includes: a diagram and description of the lifecycle of a domain name in the .MARRIOTT gTLD including domain creation; transfer protocols; grace period implementation and the respective time frames for each; and the existing resources to support the complete lifecycle of a domain.
As depicted in Figure 27-a, prior to the beginning of the Trademark Claims Service or Sunrise IP protection program[s], Afilias will support the reservation of names in accordance with the new gTLD Registry Agreement, Specification 5.
After the IP protection programs and the general launch, eligible registrants may choose an accredited registrar to register a domain name. The registrar will check availability on the requested domain name and, if available, will collect specific objects, such as the required contact and host information from the registrant. The registrar will then provision the information into the registry system using standard Extensible Provisioning Protocol (“EPP”) commands through a secure connection to the registry backend service provider.
When the domain is created, the standard five-day Add Grace Period begins, the domain and contact information are available in WHOIS, and normal operating EPP domain statuses will apply. Other specifics regarding registration rules for an active domain include:
- The domain must be unique;
- Restricted or reserved domains cannot be registered;
- The domain can be registered from 1-10 years;
- The domain can be renewed at any time for 1-10 years, but cannot exceed 10 years;
- The domain can be explicitly deleted at any time;
- The domain can be transferred from one registrar to another except during the first 60 days following a successful registration or within 60 days following a transfer; and,
Contacts and hosts can be modified at any time.
The following describe the domain status values recognized in WHOIS when using the EPP protocol following RFC 5731.
- OK or Active: This is the normal status for a domain that has no pending operations or restrictions.
- Inactive: The domain has no delegated name servers.
- Locked: No action can be taken on the domain. The domain cannot be renewed, transferred, updated, or deleted. No objects such as contacts or hosts can be associated to, or disassociated from the domain. This status includes: Delete Prohibited ⁄ Server Delete Prohibited, Update Prohibited ⁄ Server Update Prohibited, Transfer Prohibited, Server Transfer Prohibited, Renew Prohibited, Server Renew Prohibited.
- Hold: The domain will not be included in the zone. This status includes: Client Hold, Server Hold.
- Transfer Prohibited: The domain cannot be transferred away from the sponsoring registrar. This status includes: Client Transfer Prohibited, Server Transfer Prohibited.
The following describe the registration operations that apply to the domain name during the registration period.
a. Domain modifications: This operation allows for modifications or updates to the domain attributes to include:
i. Registrant Contact
ii. Admin Contact
iii. Technical Contact
iv. Billing Contact
v. Host or nameservers
vi. Authorization information
vii. Associated status values
A domain with the EPP status of Client Update Prohibited or Server Update Prohibited may not be modified until the status is removed.
b. Domain renewals: This operation extends the registration period of a domain by changing the expiration date. The following rules apply:
i. A domain can be renewed at any time during its registration term,
ii. The registration term cannot exceed a total of 10 years.
A domain with the EPP status of Client Renew Prohibited or Server Renew Prohibited cannot be renewed.
c. Domain deletions: This operation deletes the domain from the Shared Registry Services (SRS). The following rules apply:
i. A domain can be deleted at any time during its registration term, f the domain is deleted during the Add Grace Period or the Renew⁄Extend Grace Period, the sponsoring registrar will receive a credit,
ii. A domain cannot be deleted if it has “child” nameservers that are associated to other domains.
A domain with the EPP status of Client Delete Prohibited or Server Delete Prohibited cannot be deleted.
d. Domain transfers: A transfer of the domain from one registrar to another is conducted by following the steps below.
i. The registrant must obtain the applicable 〈authInfo〉 code from the sponsoring (losing) registrar.
- Every domain name has an authInfo code as per EPP RFC 5731. The authInfo code is a six- to 16-character code assigned by the registrar at the time the name was created. Its purpose is to aid identification of the domain owner so proper authority can be established (it is the ʺpasswordʺ to the domain).
- Under the Registry-Registrar Agreement, registrars will be required to provide a copy of the authInfo code to the domain registrant upon his or her request.
ii. The registrant must provide the authInfo code to the new (gaining) registrar, who will then initiate a domain transfer request. A transfer cannot be initiated without the authInfo code.
- Every EPP 〈transfer〉 command must contain the authInfo code or the request will fail. The authInfo code represents authority to the registry to initiate a transfer.
iii. Upon receipt of a valid transfer request, the registry automatically asks the sponsoring (losing) registrar to approve the request within five calendar days.
- When a registry receives a transfer request the domain cannot be modified, renewed or deleted until the request has been processed. This status must not be combined with either Client Transfer Prohibited or Server Transfer Prohibited status.
- If the sponsoring (losing) registrar rejects the transfer within five days, the transfer request is cancelled. A new domain transfer request will be required to reinitiate the process.
- If the sponsoring (losing) registrar does not approve or reject the transfer within five days, the registry automatically approves the request.
iv. After a successful transfer, it is strongly recommended that registrars change the authInfo code, so that the prior registrar or registrant cannot use it anymore.
v. Registrars must retain all transaction identifiers and codes associated with successful domain object transfers and protect them from disclosure.
vi. Once a domain is successfully transferred the status of TRANSFERPERIOD is added to the domain for a period of five days.
vii. Successful transfers will result in a one-year term extension (resulting in a maximum total of 10 years), which will be charged to the gaining registrar.
e. Bulk transfer: Afilias, supports bulk transfer functionality within the SRS for situations where ICANN may request the registry to perform a transfer of some or all registered objects (includes domain, contact and host objects) from one registrar to another registrar. Once a bulk transfer has been executed, expiry dates for all domain objects remain the same, and all relevant states of each object type are preserved. In some cases the gaining and the losing registrar as well as the registry must approved bulk transfers. A detailed log is captured for each bulk transfer process and is archived for audit purposes.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will support ICANN’s Transfer Dispute Resolution Process. Marriott Worldwide Corporation will work with Afilias to respond to Requests for Enforcement (law enforcement or court orders) and will follow that process.
1. Auto-renew grace period
The Auto-Renew Grace Period displays as AUTORENEWPERIOD in WHOIS. An auto-renew must be requested by the registrant through the sponsoring registrar and occurs if a domain name registration is not explicitly renewed or deleted by the expiration date and is set to a maximum of 45 calendar days. In this circumstance the registration will be automatically renewed by the registry system the first day after the expiration date. If a Delete, Extend, or Transfer occurs within the AUTORENEWPERIOD the following rules apply:
i. Delete: If a domain is deleted the sponsoring registrar at the time of the deletion receives a credit for the auto-renew fee. The domain then moves into the Redemption Grace Period with a status of PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE.
ii. Renew⁄Extend: A domain can be renewed as long as the total term does not exceed 10 years. The account of the sponsoring registrar at the time of the extension will be charged for the additional number of years the registration is renewed.
iii. Transfer (other than ICANN-approved bulk transfer): If a domain is transferred, the losing registrar is credited for the auto-renew fee, and the year added by the operation is cancelled. As a result of the transfer, the expiration date of the domain is extended by minimum of one year as long as the total term does not exceed 10 years. The gaining registrar is charged for the additional transfer year(s) even in cases where a full year is not added because of the maximum 10-year registration restriction.
2. Redemption grace period
During this period, a domain name is placed in the PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE status when a registrar requests the deletion of a domain that is not within the Add Grace Period. A domain can remain in this state for up to 30 days and will not be included in the zone file. The only action a registrar can take on a domain is to request that it be restored. Any other registrar requests to modify or otherwise update the domain will be rejected. If the domain is restored it moves into PENDING RESTORE and then OK. After 30 days if the domain is not restored it moves into PENDING DELETE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE before the domain is released back into the pool of available domains.
3. Pending delete
During this period, a domain name is placed in PENDING DELETE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE status for five days, and all Internet services associated with the domain will remain disabled and domain cannot be restored. After five days the domain is released back into the pool of available domains.
Other grace periods
All ICANN required grace periods will be implemented in the registry backend service provider’s system including the Add Grace Period (AGP), Renew⁄Extend Grace Period (EGP), Transfer Grace Period (TGP), Auto-Renew Grace Period (ARGP), and Redemption Grace Period (RGP). The lengths of grace periods are configurable in the registry system. At this time, the grace periods will be implemented following other gTLDs such as .ORG. More than one of these grace periods may be in effect at any one time. The following are accompanying grace periods to the registration lifecycle.
Add grace period
The Add Grace Period displays as ADDPERIOD in WHOIS and is set to five calendar days following the initial registration of a domain. If the domain is deleted by the registrar during this period, the registry provides a credit to the registrar for the cost of the registration. If a Delete, Renew⁄Extend, or Transfer operation occurs within the five calendar days, the following rules apply.
i. Delete: If a domain is deleted within this period the sponsoring registrar at the time of the deletion is credited for the amount of the registration. The domain is deleted from the registry backend service provider’s database and is released back into the pool of available domains.
ii. Renew⁄Extend: If the domain is renewed within this period and then deleted, the sponsoring registrar will receive a credit for both the registration and the extended amounts. The account of the sponsoring registrar at the time of the renewal will be charged for the initial registration plus the number of years the registration is extended. The expiration date of the domain registration is extended by that number of years as long as the total term does not exceed 10 years.
iii. Transfer (other than ICANN-approved bulk transfer): Transfers under Part A of the ICANN Policy on Transfer of Registrations between registrars may not occur during the ADDPERIOD or at any other time within the first 60 days after the initial registration. Enforcement is the responsibility of the registrar sponsoring the domain name registration and is enforced by the SRS.
Renew ⁄ extend grace period
The Renew ⁄ Extend Grace Period displays as RENEWPERIOD in WHOIS and is set to five calendar days following an explicit renewal on the domain by the registrar. If a Delete, Extend, or Transfer occurs within the five calendar days, the following rules apply:
i. Delete: If a domain is deleted within this period the sponsoring registrar at the time of the deletion receives a credit for the renewal fee. The domain then moves into the Redemption Grace Period with a status of PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE.
ii. Renew⁄Extend: A domain registration can be renewed within this period as long as the total term does not exceed 10 years. The account of the sponsoring registrar at the time of the extension will be charged for the additional number of years the registration is renewed.
iii. Transfer (other than ICANN-approved bulk transfer): If a domain is transferred within the Renew⁄Extend Grace Period, there is no credit to the losing registrar for the renewal fee. As a result of the transfer, the expiration date of the domain registration is extended by a minimum of one year as long as the total term for the domain does not exceed 10 years.
If a domain is auto-renewed, then extended, and then deleted within the Renew⁄Extend Grace Period, the registrar will be credited for any auto-renew fee charged and the number of years for the extension. The years that were added to the domain’s expiration as a result of the auto-renewal and extension are removed. The deleted domain is moved to the Redemption Grace Period with a status of PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE.
Transfer Grace Period
The Transfer Grace period displays as TRANSFERPERIOD in WHOIS and is set to five calendar days after the successful transfer of domain name registration from one registrar to another registrar. Transfers under Part A of the ICANN Policy on Transfer of Registrations between registrars may not occur during the TRANSFERPERIOD or within the first 60 days after the transfer. If a Delete or Renew⁄Extend occurs within that five calendar days, the following rules apply:
i. Delete: If the domain is deleted by the new sponsoring registrar during this period, the registry provides a credit to the registrar for the cost of the transfer. The domain then moves into the Redemption Grace Period with a status of PENDING DELETE RESTORABLE.
ii. Renew⁄Extend: If a domain registration is renewed within the Transfer Grace Period, there is no credit for the transfer. The registrarʹs account will be charged for the number of years the registration is renewed. The expiration date of the domain registration is extended by the renewal years as long as the total term does not exceed 10 years.
For gTLD with auctions: The .MARRIOTT gTLD will conduct an auction for certain domain names. Afilias will manage the domain name auction using existing technology. Upon the completion of the auction, any domain name acquired will then follow the standard lifecycle of a domain.
Registration lifecycle resources
Since its founding, Afilias is focused on delivering secure, stable and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of our staff in a focused way. Virtually all Afilias resource are involved in the registration lifecycle of domains.
There are a few areas where registry staff devotes resources to registration lifecycle issues:
a. Supporting Registrar Transfer Disputes. Marriott Worldwide Corporation will have a compliance staffer handle these disputes as they arise; they are very rare in the existing gTLDs.
b. Afilias has its development and quality assurance departments on hand to modify the grace period functionality as needed, if ICANN issues new Consensus Policies or the RFCs change.
Afilias has more than 30 staff members in these departments.
Afilias Answer to Q28 Abuse Prevention and Mitigation
Marriott Worldwide Corporation, working with Afilias, will take the requisite operational and technical steps to promote WHOIS data accuracy, limit domain abuse, remove outdated and inaccurate data, and other security measures to ensure the integrity of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. The specific measures include, but are not limited to:
- Posting a gTLD Anti-Abuse Policy that clearly defines abuse, and provides point-of-contact information for reporting suspected abuse;
- Committing to rapid identification and resolution of abuse, including suspensions;
- Ensuring completeness of WHOIS information at the time of registration;
- Publishing and maintaining procedures for removing orphan glue records for names removed from the zone; and
- Establishing measures to deter WHOIS abuse, including rate-limiting, determining data syntax validity, and implementing and enforcing requirements from the Registry-Registrar Agreement.
The Anti-Abuse Policy stated below will be enacted under the contractual authority of Marriott Worldwide Corporation through the Registry-Registrar Agreement, and the obligations will be passed on to and made binding upon registrants. This policy will be posted on the .MARRIOTT gTLD website along with contact information for registrants or users to report suspected abuse.
The policy is designed to address the malicious use of domain names. Marriott Worldwide Corporation and its registrars will make reasonable attempts to limit significant harm to Internet users. This policy is not intended to take the place of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS), and it is not to be used as an alternate form of dispute resolution or as a brand protection mechanism. Its intent is not to burden law-abiding or innocent registrants and domain users; rather, the intent is to deter those who use domain names maliciously by engaging in illegal or fraudulent activity.
Repeat violations of the abuse policy will result in a case-by-case review of the abuser(s), and the Marriott Worldwide Corporation reserves the right to escalate the issue, with the intent of levying sanctions that are allowed under the gTLD anti-abuse policy.
The below policy is a recent version of the policy that has been used by the .INFO registry since 2008, and the .ORG registry since 2009. It has proven to be an effective and flexible tool.
.MARRIOTT Anti-Abuse Policy
The following Anti-Abuse Policy is effective upon launch of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Malicious use of domain names will not be tolerated. The nature of such abuses creates security and stability issues for the registry, registrars, and registrants, as well as for users of the Internet in general. Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s definition of abusive use of a domain includes, without limitation, the following:
- Illegal or fraudulent actions;
- Spam: The use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages. The term applies to email spam and similar abuses such as instant messaging spam, mobile messaging spam, and the spamming of web sites and Internet forums;
- Phishing: The use of counterfeit web pages that are designed to trick recipients into divulging sensitive data such as personally identifying information, usernames, passwords, or financial data;
- Pharming: The redirecting of unknowing users to fraudulent sites or services, typically through, but not limited to, DNS hijacking or poisoning;
- Willful distribution of malware: The dissemination of software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the ownerʹs informed consent. Examples include, without limitation, computer viruses, worms, keyloggers, and Trojan horses;
- Malicious fast-flux hosting: Use of fast-flux techniques with a botnet to disguise the location of web sites or other Internet services, or to avoid detection and mitigation efforts, or to host illegal activities;
- Botnet command and control: Services run on a domain name that are used to control a collection of compromised computers or ʺzombies,ʺ or to direct distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attacks); and
- Illegal Access to Other Computers or Networks: Illegally accessing computers, accounts, or networks belonging to another party, or attempting to penetrate security measures of another individualʹs system (often known as ʺhackingʺ). Also, any activity that might be used as a precursor to an attempted system penetration (e.g., port scan, stealth scan, or other information gathering activity).
Pursuant to the Registry-Registrar Agreement, Marriott Worldwide Corporation reserves the right at its sole discretion to deny, cancel, or transfer any registration or transaction, or place any domain name(s) on registry lock, hold, or similar status, that it deems necessary: (1) to protect the integrity and stability of the registry; (2) to comply with any applicable laws, government rules or requirements, requests of law enforcement, or any dispute resolution process; (3) to avoid any liability, civil or criminal, on the part of Marriott Worldwide Corporation, as well as its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, directors, and employees; (4) per the terms of the registration agreement and this Anti-Abuse Policy; or (5) to correct mistakes made by Marriott Worldwide Corporation or any registrar in connection with a domain name registration. Marriott Worldwide Corporation also reserves the right to place upon registry lock, hold, or similar status a domain name during resolution of a dispute.
The policy stated above will be accompanied by notes about how to submit a report to Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s abuse point of contact, and how to report an orphan glue record suspected of being used in connection with malicious conduct (see below).
Abuse Point of Contact and Procedures for Handling Abuse Complaints
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will establish an abuse point of contact. This contact will be a role-based e-mail address of the form “[email protected]” This e-mail address will allow multiple staff members to monitor abuse reports on a 24⁄7 basis, and then work toward closure of cases as each situation calls for. For tracking purposes, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will have a ticketing system with which all complaints will be tracked internally. The reporter will be provided with the ticket reference identifier for potential follow-up. Afilias will integrate its existing ticketing system with Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s to ensure uniform tracking and handling of the complaint. This role-based approach has been used successfully by ISPs, e-mail service providers, and registrars for many years, and is considered a global best practice.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s designated abuse handlers will then evaluate complaints received via the abuse system address. They will decide whether a particular issue is of concern, and decide what action, if any, is appropriate.
In general, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will find itself receiving abuse reports from a wide variety of parties, including security researchers and Internet security companies, financial institutions such as banks, Internet users, and law enforcement agencies among others. Some of these parties may provide good forensic data or supporting evidence of the malicious behavior. In other cases, the party reporting an issue may not be familiar with how to provide such data or proof of malicious behavior. It is expected that a percentage of abuse reports to Marriott Worldwide Corporation will not be actionable, because there will not be enough evidence to support the complaint (even after investigation), and because some reports or reporters will simply not be credible.
The security function includes a communication and outreach function, with information sharing with industry partners regarding malicious or abusive behavior, in order to ensure coordinated abuse mitigation across multiple TLDs.
Assessing abuse reports requires great care, and Marriott Worldwide Corporation will rely upon professional, trained investigators who are versed in such matters. The goals are accuracy, good record-keeping, and a zero false-positive rate so as not to harm innocent registrants.
Different types of malicious activities require different methods of investigation and documentation. Further, Marriott Worldwide Corporation expects to face unexpected or complex situations that call for professional advice, and will rely upon professional, trained investigators as needed.
In general, there are two types of domain abuse that must be addressed:
a) Compromised domains. These domains have been hacked or otherwise compromised by criminals, and the registrant is not responsible for the malicious activity taking place on the domain. For example, the majority of domain names that host phishing sites are compromised. The goal in such cases is to get word to the registrant (usually via the registrar) that there is a problem that needs attention with the expectation that the registrant will address the problem in a timely manner. Ideally such domains do not get suspended, since suspension would disrupt legitimate activity on the domain.
b) Malicious registrations. These domains are registered by malefactors for the purpose of abuse. Such domains are generally targets for suspension, since they have no legitimate use.
The standard procedure is that Marriott Worldwide Corporation will forward a credible alleged case of malicious domain name use to the domain’s sponsoring registrar with a request that the registrar investigate the case and act appropriately. The registrar will be provided evidence collected as a result of the investigation conducted by the trained abuse handlers. As part of the investigation, if inaccurate or false WHOIS registrant information is detected, the registrar is notified about this. The registrar is the party with a direct relationship with—and a direct contract with—the registrant. The registrar will also have vital information that Marriott Worldwide Corporation will not, such as:
- Details about the domain purchase, such as the payment method used (credit card, PayPal, etc.);
- The identity of a proxy-protected registrant;
- The purchaser’s IP address;
- Whether there is a reseller involved; and
- The registrant’s past sales history and purchases in other TLDs (insofar as the registrar can determine this).
Registrars do not share the above information with registry operators due to privacy and liability concerns, among others. Because they have more information with which to continue the investigation, and because they have a direct relationship with the registrant, the registrar is in the best position to evaluate alleged abuse. The registrar can determine if the use violates the registrar’s legal terms of service or the registry Anti-Abuse Policy, and can decide whether or not to take any action. While the language and terms vary, registrars will be expected to include language in their registrar-registrant contracts that indemnifies the registrar if it takes action, and allows the registrar to suspend or cancel a domain name; this will be in addition to the registry Anti-Abuse Policy. Generally, registrars can act if the registrant violates the registrar’s terms of service, or violates ICANN policy, or if illegal activity is involved, or if the use violates the registry’s Anti-Abuse Policy.
If a registrar does not take action within a time period indicated by Marriott Worldwide Corporation (usually 24 hours), Marriott Worldwide Corporation might then decide to take action itself. At all times, Marriott Worldwide Corporation reserves the right to act directly and immediately if the potential harm to Internet users seems significant or imminent, with or without notice to the sponsoring registrar.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will be prepared to call upon relevant law enforcement bodies as needed. There are certain cases, for example, Illegal pharmacy domains, where Marriott Worldwide Corporation will contact the Law Enforcement Agencies to share information about these domains, provide all the evidence collected and work closely with them before any action will be taken for suspension. The specific action is often dependent upon the jurisdiction in which Marriott Worldwide Corporation operates, although the operator in all cases will adhere to applicable laws and regulations.
When valid court orders or seizure warrants are received from courts or law enforcement agencies of relevant jurisdiction, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will order execution in an expedited fashion. Compliance with these will be a top priority and will be completed as soon as possible and within the defined timelines of the order. There are certain cases where Law Enforcement Agencies request information about a domain including but not limited to:
- Registration information;
- History of a domain, including recent updates made;
- Other domains associated with a registrant’s account; and
- Patterns of registrant portfolio.
Requests for such information is handled on a priority basis and sent back to the requestor as soon as possible. Afilias sets a goal to respond to such requests within 24 hours.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation may also engage in proactive screening of its zone for malicious use of the domains in the .MARRIOTT gTLD, and report problems to the sponsoring registrars. Marriott Worldwide Corporation could take advantage of a combination of the following resources, among others:
- Blocklists of domain names and nameservers published by organizations such as SURBL and Spamhaus;
- Anti-phishing feeds, which will provide URLs of compromised and maliciously registered domains being used for phishing; and
- Analysis of registration or DNS query data [DNS query data received by the gTLD nameservers.]
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will keep records and track metrics regarding abuse and abuse reports. These will include:
- Number of abuse reports received by the registry’s abuse point of contact described above;
- Number of cases and domains referred to registrars for resolution;
- Number of cases and domains where the registry took direct action;
- Resolution times;
- Number of domains in the .MARRIOTT gTLD that have been blacklisted by major anti-spam blocklist providers; and
- Phishing site uptimes in the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Removal of Orphan Glue Records
By definition, orphan glue records used to be glue records. Glue records are related to delegations and are necessary to guide iterative resolvers to delegated nameservers. A glue record becomes an orphan when its parent nameserver record is removed without also removing the corresponding glue record. (Please reference the ICANN SSAC paper SAC048 at: http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄committees⁄security⁄sac048.pdf.) Orphan glue records may be created when a domain (example.tld) is placed on EPP ServerHold or ClientHold status. When placed on Hold, the domain is removed from the zone and will stop resolving. However, any child nameservers (now orphan glue) of that domain (e.g., ns1.example.tld) are left in the zone. It is important to keep these orphan glue records in the zone so that any innocent sites using that nameserver will continue to resolve. This use of Hold status is an essential tool for suspending malicious domains.
Afilias observes the following procedures, which are being followed by other registries and are generally accepted as DNS best practices. These procedures are also in keeping with ICANN SSAC recommendations.
When a request to delete a domain is received from a registrar, the registry first checks for the existence of glue records. If glue records exist, the registry will check to see if other domains in the registry are using the glue records. If other domains in the registry are using the glue records then the request to delete the domain will fail until no other domains are using the glue records. If no other domains in the registry are using the glue records then the glue records will be removed before the request to delete the domain is satisfied. If no glue records exist, then the request to delete the domain will be satisfied.
If a registrar cannot delete a domain because of the existence of glue records that are being used by other domains, then the registrar may refer to the zone file or the “weekly domain hosted by nameserver report” to find out which domains are using the nameserver in question and attempt to contact the corresponding registrar to request that they stop using the nameserver in the glue record. Marriott Worldwide Corporation does not plan on performing mass updates of the associated DNS records.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will accept, evaluate, and respond appropriately to complaints that orphan glue is being used maliciously. Such reports should be made in writing to Marriott Worldwide Corporation, and may be submitted to the registry’s abuse point-of-contact. If it is confirmed that an orphan glue record is being used in connection with malicious conduct, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will have the orphan glue record removed from the zone file. Afilias has the technical ability to execute such requests as needed.
Methods to Promote WHOIS Accuracy
The creation and maintenance of accurate WHOIS records is an important part of registry management. As described in our response to Question 26, WHOIS, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will manage a secure, robust and searchable WHOIS service for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
WHOIS Data Accuracy
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will offer a “thick” registry system. In this model, all key contact details for each domain name will be stored in a central location by the registry. This allows better access to domain data, and provides uniformity in storing the information. Marriott Worldwide Corporation will ensure that the required fields for WHOIS data (as per the defined policies for the .MARRIOTT gTLD) are enforced at the registry level. This ensures that the registrars are providing required domain registration data. Fields defined by the registry policy to be mandatory are documented as such and must be submitted by registrars. The Afilias registry system verifies formats for relevant individual data fields (e.g. e-mail and phone⁄fax numbers). Only valid country codes are allowed as defined by the ISO 3166 code list. The Afilias WHOIS system is extensible, and is capable of using the VAULT system, described further below.
Similar to the centralized abuse point of contact described above, Marriott Worldwide Corporation can institute a contact email address which could be utilized by third parties to submit complaints for inaccurate or false WHOIS data detected. This information will be processed by Afilias’ support department and forwarded to the registrars. The registrars can work with the registrants of those domains to address these complaints. Afilias will audit registrars on a yearly basis to verify whether the complaints being forwarded are being addressed or not. This functionality, available to all registry operators, is activated based on Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s business policy.
Afilias also incorporates a spot-check verification system where a randomly selected set of domain names are checked periodically for accuracy of WHOIS data. Afilias’ .PRO registry system incorporates such a verification system whereby 1 percent of total registrations or 100 domains, whichever number is larger, are spot-checked every month to verify the domain name registrant’s critical information provided with the domain registration data. With both a highly qualified corps of engineers and a 24⁄7 staffed support function, Afilias has the capacity to integrate such spot-check functionality into the .MARRIOTT gTLD, based on Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s business policy. Note: This functionality will not work for proxy protected WHOIS information, where registrars or their resellers have the actual registrant data. The solution to that problem lies with either registry or registrar policy, or a change in the general marketplace practices with respect to proxy registrations.
Finally, Afilias’ registry systems have a sophisticated set of billing and pricing functionality which aids registry operators who decide to provide a set of financial incentives to registrars for maintaining or improving WHOIS accuracy. For instance, it is conceivable that Marriott Worldwide Corporation may decide to provide a discount for the domain registration or renewal fees for validated registrants, or levy a larger cost for the domain registration or renewal of proxy domain names. The Afilias system has the capability to support such incentives on a configurable basis, towards the goal of promoting better WHOIS accuracy.
Role of Registrars
As part of the RRA (Registry-Registrar Agreement), Marriott Worldwide Corporation will require the registrar to be responsible for ensuring the input of accurate WHOIS data by its registrants. The Registrar⁄Registered Name Holder Agreement will include a specific clause to ensure accuracy of WHOIS data, and to give the registrar rights to cancel or suspend registrations if the Registered Name Holder fails to respond to the registrar’s query regarding accuracy of data. ICANN’s WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System (WDPRS) will be available to those who wish to file WHOIS inaccuracy reports, as per ICANN policy (http:⁄⁄wdprs.internic.net⁄).
The proposed use of .MARRIOTT as a .BRAND gTLD in which all of the domain names will initially be registered by Marriott Worldwide Corporation and its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates essentially eliminates the potential of false or inaccurate WHOIS data. Further ensuring that all domain names contain uniform, accurate, and up-to-date WHOIS information is the fact that these domain names will be registered through Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s existing registrar(s), or a similarly situated registrar, which handle Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s existing domain name portfolio.
Should Marriott Worldwide Corporation expand the universe of potential registrants in the .MARRIOTT namespace, to include third parties such as licensees or strategic partners, Marriott Worldwide Corporation intends to offer the following enhanced mechanism to ensure the accuracy of WHOIS data; specifically, there will be a process put in place in which third parties will be able to submit complaints to Marriott Worldwide Corporation regarding non-compliant WHOIS data. The complaint will be sent to the registrar of record. This registrar shall be contractually required to investigate and remediate said complaint. Thirty days following the forwarding of the complaint to the registrar of record, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will analyze the current WHOIS data for each name alleged to be inaccurate in order to determine in the complaint has been properly addressed. If no action has been taken by the registrar, or if it is apparent that the registrant of record failed to correct the non-compliant WHOIS data, Marriott Worldwide Corporation reserves the right to suspend the applicable domain name(s) until the registrant has properly updated the WHOIS record(s).
Controls to Ensure Proper Access to Domain Functions
Several measures are in place in the Afilias registry system to ensure proper access to domain functions, including authentication provisions in the RRA relative to notification and contact updates via use of AUTH-INFO codes.
IP address access control lists, TLS⁄SSL certificates and proper authentication are used to control access to the registry system. Registrars are only given access to perform operations on the objects they sponsor.
Every domain will have a unique AUTH-INFO code. The AUTH-INFO code is a six- to 16-character code assigned by the registrar at the time the name is created. Its purpose is to aid identification of the domain owner so proper authority can be established. It is the ʺpasswordʺ to the domain name. Registrars must use the domain’s password in order to initiate a registrar-to-registrar transfer. It is used to ensure that domain updates (update contact information, transfer, or deletion) are undertaken by the proper registrant, and that this registrant is adequately notified of domain update activity. Only the sponsoring registrar of a domain has access to the domain’s AUTH-INFO code stored in the registry, and this is accessible only via encrypted, password-protected channels.
Information about other registry security measures such as encryption and security of registrar channels are confidential to ensure the security of the registry system. The details can be found in the response to Question 30B.
Validation and Abuse Mitigation Mechanisms
Afilias has developed advanced validation and abuse mitigation mechanisms. These capabilities and mechanisms are described below. These services and capabilities are discretionary and may be utilized by Marriott Worldwide Corporation based on its policy and business needs.
Afilias has the ability to analyze the registration data for known patterns at the time of registration. A database of these known patterns is developed from domains and other associated objects (e.g., contact information) which have been previously detected and suspended after being flagged as abusive. Any domains matching the defined criteria can be flagged for investigation. Once analyzed and confirmed by the domain anti-abuse team members, these domains may be suspended. This provides proactive detection of abusive domains.
Provisions are available to enable Marriott Worldwide Corporation to only allow registrations by pre-authorized and verified contacts. These verified contacts are given a unique code that can be used for registration of new domains.
Registrant Pre-Verification and Authentication
One of the systems that could be used for validity and identity authentication is VAULT (Validation and Authentication Universal Lookup). It utilizes information obtained from a series of trusted data sources with access to billions of records containing data about individuals for the purpose of providing independent age and id verification as well as the ability to incorporate additional public or private data sources as required. At present it has the following: U.S. Residential Coverage – 90 percent of Adult Population, and also International Coverage – Varies from country to country with a minimum of 80 percent coverage (24 countries, mostly European).
Various verification elements can be used. Examples might include applicant data such as name, address, phone, etc. Multiple methods could be used for verification include integrated solutions utilizing API (XML Application Programming Interface) or sending batches of requests.
- Verification and Authentication requirements would be based on gTLD operator requirements or specific criteria.
- Based on required WHOIS Data, registrant contact details (name, address, phone).
- If address⁄ZIP can be validated by VAULT, the validation process can continue (North America +25 International countries).
- If in-line processing and registration and EPP⁄API call would go to the verification clearinghouse and return up to four challenge questions.
- If two-step registration is required, then registrants would get a link to complete the verification at a separate time. The link could be specific to a domain registration and pre-populated with data about the registrant.
- If WHOIS data is validated a token would be generated and could be given back to the registrar which registered the domain.
- WHOIS data would reflect the Validated Data or some subset, i.e., fields displayed could be first initial and last name, country of registrant, and date validated. Other fields could be generic validation fields much like a “privacy service.”
- A “Validation Icon” customized script would be sent to the registrants email address. This could be displayed on the website and would be dynamically generated to avoid unauthorized use of the Icon. When clicked on the Icon would should limited WHOIS details, e.g., Registrant: jdoe, Country: USA, Date Validated: March 29, 2011, as well as legal disclaimers.
- Validation would be annually renewed, and validation date displayed in the WHOIS.
Abuse Prevention Resourcing Plans
Since its founding, Afilias has been focused on delivering secure, stable, and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of our staff in a focused way. Abuse prevention and detection is a function that is staffed across the various groups inside Afilias, and requires a team effort when abuse is either well hidden or widespread, or both. While all of Afilias’ 200+ employees are charged with responsibility to report any detected abuse, the engineering and analysis teams, numbering over 30, provide specific support based on the type of abuse and volume and frequency of analysis required. The Afilias security and support teams have the authority to initiate mitigation.
Afilias has developed advanced validation and abuse mitigation mechanisms. These capabilities and mechanisms are described below. These services and capabilities are discretionary and may be utilized by Marriott Worldwide Corporation based on its policy and business needs.
The .MARRIOTT’s anticipated volume of registrations in the first three years of operation is listed in the response to Question 46. Afilias and Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s anti-abuse function anticipates the expected volume and type of registrations, and together will adequately cover the staffing needs for the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Marriott Worldwide Corporation will maintain an abuse response team, which may be a combination of internal staff and outside specialty contractors, adjusting to the needs of the size and type of the gTLD. The team structure planned for the .MARRIOTT gTLD is based on several years of experience responding to, mitigating, and managing abuse for TLDs of various sizes. The team will generally consist of abuse handlers (probably internal), a junior analyst, (either internal or external), and a senior security consultant (likely an external resource providing Marriott Worldwide Corporation with extra expertise as needed). These responders will be specially trained in the investigation of abuse complaints, and will have the latitude to act expeditiously to suspend domain names (or apply other remedies) when called for.
The exact resources required to maintain an abuse response team must change with the size and registration procedures of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. An initial abuse handler is necessary as a point of contact for reports, even if a part-time responsibility. The abuse handlers monitor the abuse email address for complaints and evaluate incoming reports from a variety of sources. A large percentage of abuse reports to Marriott Worldwide Corporation may be unsolicited commercial email. The designated abuse handlers can identify legitimate reports and then decide what action is appropriate, either to act upon them, escalate to a security analyst for closer investigation, or refer them to registrars as per the above-described procedures. A gTLD with rare cases of abuse would conform to this structure.
If multiple cases of abuse within the same week occur regularly, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will consider staffing internally a security analyst to investigate the complaints as they become more frequent. Training an abuse analyst requires three to six months and likely requires the active guidance of an experienced senior security analyst for guidance and verification of assessments and recommendations being made.
If the .MARRIOTT gTLD were to regularly experience multiple cases of abuse within the same day, a full-time senior security analyst would likely be necessary. A senior security analyst capable of fulfilling this role should have several years of experience and able to manage and train the internal abuse response team.
The abuse response team will also maintain subscriptions for several security information services, including the blocklists from organizations like SURBL and Spamhaus, and anti-phishing and other domain related abuse (malware, fast-flux, etc.) feeds. The pricing structure of these services may depend on the size of the domain and some services will include a number of rapid suspension requests for use as needed.
For a large gTLD, regular audits of the registry data are required to maintain control over abusive registrations. When a registrar with a significant number of registrations has been compromised or acted maliciously, Marriott Worldwide Corporation may need to analyze a set of registration or DNS query data. A scan of all the domains of a registrar is conducted only as needed. Scanning and analysis for a large registrar may require as much as a week of full-time effort for a dedicated machine and team.
Afilias Answer to Q29 Rights Protection Mechanisms
Rights protection is a core responsibility of Marriott Worldwide Corporation, and is supported by a fully-developed plan for rights protection that includes:
- Establishing mechanisms to prevent unqualified registrations (e.g., registrations made in violation of the registry’s eligibility restrictions or policies);
- Implementing a robust Sunrise program, utilizing the Trademark Clearinghouse, the services of one of ICANN’s approved dispute resolution providers, a trademark validation agent, and drawing upon Sunrise policies and rules used successfully in previous gTLD launches;
- Implementing a professional Trademark Claims program that utilizes the Trademark Clearinghouse, and drawing upon models of similar programs used successfully in previous gTLD launches;
- Complying with the URS requirements;
- Complying with the UDRP;
- Complying with the PDDRP; and
- Including all ICANN-mandated and independently developed rights protection mechanisms (“RPMs”) in the Registry-Registrar Agreement entered into by ICANN-accredited registrars authorized to register names in the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
The response below details the rights protection mechanisms at the launch of the .MARRIOTT gTLD (Sunrise and Trademark Claims Service), which comply with rights protection policies (URS, UDRP, PDDRP, and other ICANN RPMs), outlines additional provisions made for rights protection, and provides the resourcing plans.
Safeguards for Rights Protection at the Launch of the .MARRIOTT gTLD
The launch of the .MARRIOTT gTLD will include the operation of a Trademark Claims service according to the defined ICANN processes for checking a registration request and alerting trademark holders of potential rights infringement.
The Sunrise Period will be an exclusive period of time, prior to the opening of public registration, when trademark and service mark holders will be able to reserve marks that are an identical match in the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Following the Sunrise Period, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will open registration to qualified applicants.
Sunrise Period Requirements and Restrictions
Those wishing to reserve their marks in the .MARRIOTT gTLD during the Sunrise Period must own a current trademark or service mark listed in the Trademark Clearinghouse.
Notice will be provided to all trademark holders in the Clearinghouse if someone is seeking a Sunrise registration. This notice will be provided to holders of marks in the Clearinghouse that are an Identical Match (as defined in the Trademark Clearing House) to the name to be registered during Sunrise.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will establish the following Sunrise eligibility requirements (SERs) as minimum requirements, verified by Clearinghouse data, and incorporate a Sunrise Dispute Resolution Policy (SDRP). The SERs include: (i) ownership of a mark that satisfies the criteria set forth in section 7.2 of the Trademark Clearing House specifications; (ii) description of international class of goods or services covered by registration; (iii) representation that all provided information is true and correct; and (iv) provision of data sufficient to document rights in the trademark.
The SDRP will allow challenges based on the following four grounds: (i) at time the challenged domain name was registered, the registrants did not hold a trademark registration of national effect (or regional effect) or the trademark had not been court-validated or protected by statute or treaty; (ii) the domain name is not identical to the mark on which the registrant based its Sunrise registration; (iii) the trademark registration on which the registrant based its Sunrise registration is not of national effect (or regional effect) or the trademark had not been court-validated or protected by statute or treaty; or (iv) the trademark registration on which the domain name registrant based its Sunrise registration did not issue on or before the effective date of the Registry Agreement and was not applied for on or before ICANN announced the applications received.
Prior to implementing the above referenced policy, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will review final Trademark Clearinghouse documentation and pricing, which were not available at the time of filing of this application, to ensure a best-in-class launch of the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
While Marriott Worldwide Corporation is contractually required to implement the Trademark Clearinghouse, including Sunrise and Trademark Claims, due to the restricted nature of the proposed .MARRIOTT gTLD, Marriott Worldwide Corporation, as the initial sole registrant, may elect to allow the mandatory Sunrise Period to pass prior to registering any domain names within the .MARRIOTT namespace. No final decision will be made until final pricing and availability of the Trademark Clearinghouse is provided.
Ongoing Rights Protection Mechanisms
Several mechanisms will be in place to protect rights in the .MARRIOTT gTLD. As described in the responses to Questions 27 and 28 of this application, measures are in place to ensure domain transfers and updates are only initiated by the appropriate domain holder, and an experienced team is available to respond to legal actions by law enforcement or court orders.
The .MARRIOTT TLD will conform to all ICANN RPMs including URS (defined below), UDRP, PDDRP, and all measures defined in Specification 7 of the new TLD agreement.
Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS)
Marriott Worldwide Corporation will implement decisions rendered under the URS on an ongoing basis. Per the URS policy posted on ICANN’s website as of this writing, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will receive notice of URS actions from the ICANN-approved URS providers. These emails will be directed immediately to Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s support staff, which is on duty 24⁄7. The support staff will be responsible for creating a ticket for each case, and for executing the directives from the URS provider. All support staff will receive pertinent training.
As per ICANN’s URS guidelines, within 24 hours of receipt of the notice of complaint from the URS provider, Marriott Worldwide Corporation shall “lock” the domain, meaning the registry shall restrict all changes to the registration data, including transfer and deletion of the domain names, but the name will remain in the .MARRIOTT DNS zone file and will thus continue to resolve. The support staff will “lock” the domain by associating the following EPP statuses with the domain and relevant contact objects:
- ServerUpdateProhibited, with an EPP reason code of “URS”
- ServerDeleteProhibited, with an EPP reason code of “URS”
- ServerTransferProhibited, with an EPP reason code of “URS”
- Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s support staff will then notify the URS provider immediately upon locking the domain name, via email.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s support staff will retain all copies of emails from the URS providers, assign them a tracking or ticket number, and will track the status of each opened URS case through to resolution via spreadsheet or database.
Marriott Worldwide Corporation’s support staff will execute further operations upon notice from the URS providers. The URS provider is required to specify the remedy and required actions of Marriott Worldwide Corporation, with notification to the registrant, the complainant, and the registrar.
As per the URS guidelines, if the complainant prevails, the “registry operator shall suspend the domain name, which shall remain suspended for the balance of the registration period and would not resolve to the original web site. The nameservers shall be redirected to an informational web page provided by the URS provider about the URS. The WHOIS for the domain name shall continue to display all of the information of the original registrant except for the redirection of the nameservers. In addition, the WHOIS shall reflect that the domain name will not be able to be transferred, deleted or modified for the life of the registration.”
Rights Protection via the RRA
The following will be memorialized and be made binding via the Registry-Registrar and Registrar-Registrant Agreements:
- The registry may reject a registration request or a reservation request, or may delete, revoke, suspend, cancel, or transfer a registration or reservation under the following criteria:
a. to enforce registry policies and ICANN requirements; each as amended from time to time;
b. that is not accompanied by complete and accurate information as required by ICANN requirements and⁄or registry policies or where required information is not updated and⁄or corrected as required by ICANN requirements and⁄or registry policies;
c. to protect the integrity and stability of the registry, its operations, and the gTLD system;
d. to comply with any applicable law, regulation, holding, order, or decision issued by a court, administrative authority, or dispute resolution service provider with jurisdiction over the registry;
e. to establish, assert, or defend the legal rights of the registry or a third party or to avoid any civil or criminal liability on the part of the registry and⁄or its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, directors, representatives, employees, contractors, and stockholders;
f. to correct mistakes made by the registry or any accredited registrar in connection with a registration; or
g. as otherwise provided in the Registry-Registrar Agreement and⁄or the Registrar-Registrant Agreement.
Reducing Opportunities for Behaviors such as Phishing or Pharming
In the response to Question 28 of this application, Marriott Worldwide Corporation has described its anti-abuse program. Rather than repeating the policies and procedures here, please see the response to Question 28 for full details.
With specific respect to phishing and pharming, it should be noted by ICANN that this will be a restricted-registrant gTLD in which Marriott Worldwide Corporation has direct control over each registrant (each registrant is typically on staff or otherwise contractually bound) and how each registration may be used. Further, there will be no open registration period for the .MARRIOTT gTLD, as it will initially be a “closed” gTLD. Since all criminal activity (such as phishing and pharming) is precluded by the mission, values, and policies of Marriott Worldwide Corporation and its parent, Marriott International, Inc. criminal activity is not expected to be a problem. If such activity occurs due to hacking or other compromises, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will take prompt and effective steps to eliminate the activity.
In the case of the .MARRIOTT gTLD, Marriott Worldwide Corporation will apply an approach that addresses registered domain names (rather than potentially registered domains). This approach will not infringe upon the rights of eligible registrants to register domains, and allows Marriott Worldwide Corporation internal controls, as well as community-developed UDRP and URS policies and procedures if needed, to deal with complaints, should there be any.
Afilias is a member of various security fora that provide access to lists of names in each TLD that may be used for malicious purposes. Such identified names will be subject to the .MARRIOTT gTLD anti-abuse policy, including rapid suspensions after due process.
Rights Protection Resourcing Plans
Since its founding, Afilias has been focused on delivering secure, stable, and reliable registry services. Several essential management and staff who designed and launched the Afilias registry in 2001 and expanded the number of TLDs supported, all while maintaining strict service levels over the past decade, are still in place today. This experiential continuity will endure for the implementation and on-going maintenance of the .MARRIOTT gTLD. Afilias operates in a matrix structure, which allows its staff to be allocated to various critical functions in both a dedicated and a shared manner. With a team of specialists and generalists, the Afilias project management methodology allows efficient and effective use of our staff in a focused way.
Supporting RPMs requires several departments within Marriott Worldwide Corporation as well as within Afilias. The implementation of Sunrise and the Trademark Claims service and ongoing RPM activities will pull from the 102 Afilias staff members of the engineering, product management, development, security, and policy teams at Afilias and the support staff of Marriott Worldwide Corporation, which is on duty 24⁄7. A trademark validator will also be assigned within Marriott Worldwide Corporation, whose responsibilities may require as much as 50 percent of full-time employment if the domains under management were to exceed several million. No additional hardware or software resources are required to support this as Afilias has fully operational capabilities to manage abuse today.
The answer to Question 30A is provided by Afilias, the back-end provider of registry services for the .MARRIOTT gTLD.
Afilias aggressively and actively protects the registry system from known threats and vulnerabilities, and has deployed an extensive set of security protocols, policies, and procedures to thwart compromise. Afilias’ robust and detailed plans are continually updated and tested to ensure new threats are mitigated prior to becoming issues. Afilias will continue these rigorous security measures, which include:
- Multiple layers of security and access controls throughout registry and support systems;
- 24x7 monitoring of all registry and DNS systems, support systems and facilities;
- Unique, proven registry design that ensures data integrity by granting only authorized access to the registry system, all while meeting performance requirements;
- Detailed incident and problem management processes for rapid review, communications, and problem resolution; and
- Yearly external audits by independent, industry-leading firms, as well as twice-yearly internal audits.
Security Policies and Protocols
Afilias has included security in every element of its service, including facilities, hardware, equipment, connectivity⁄Internet services, systems, computer systems, organizational security, outage prevention, monitoring, disaster mitigation, and escrow⁄insurance, from the original design, through development, and finally as part of production deployment. Examples of threats and the confidential and proprietary mitigation procedures are detailed in the response to Question 30B of this application.
There are several important aspects of the security policies and procedures to note:
- Afilias hosts domains in data centers around the world that meet or exceed global best practices.
- Afilias’ DNS infrastructure is massively provisioned as part of its DDoS mitigation strategy, thus ensuring sufficient capacity and redundancy to support new gTLDs.
- Diversity is an integral part of all of Afilias’ software and hardware stability and robustness plan, thus avoiding any single points of failure in its infrastructure.
- Access to any element of Afilias’ service (applications, infrastructure and data) is only provided on an as-needed basis to employees and a limited set of others to fulfill their job functions. The principle of least privilege is applied.
- All registry components – critical and non-critical – are monitored 24⁄7 by staff at Afilias’ NOCs, and the technical staff has detailed plans and procedures that have stood the test of time for addressing even the smallest anomaly. Well-documented incident management procedures are in place to quickly involve the on-call technical and management staff members to address any issues.
Afilias follows the guidelines from the ISO 27001 Information Security Standard (Reference: http:⁄⁄www.iso.org⁄iso⁄iso_catalogue⁄catalogue_tc⁄catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=42103) for the management and implementation of its Information Security Management System. Afilias also utilizes the COBIT IT governance framework to facilitate policy development and enable controls for appropriate management of risk (Reference: http:⁄⁄www.isaca.org⁄cobit). Best practices defined in ISO 27002 are followed for defining the security controls within the organization. Afilias continually looks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its processes, and follows industry best practices as defined by the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL (Reference: http:⁄⁄www.itil-officialsite.com⁄).
The Afilias registry system is located within secure data centers that implement a multitude of security measures both to minimize any potential points of vulnerability and to limit any damage should there be a breach. The characteristics of these data centers are described fully in the response to Question 30B of this application.
The Afilias registry system employs a number of multi-layered measures to prevent unauthorized access to its network and internal systems. Before reaching the registry network, all traffic is required to pass through a firewall system. Packets passing to and from the Internet are inspected, and unauthorized or unexpected attempts to connect to the registry servers are both logged and denied. Management processes are in place to ensure each request is tracked and documented, and regular firewall audits are performed to ensure proper operation. 24⁄7 monitoring is in place and, if potential malicious activity is detected, appropriate personnel are notified immediately.
Afilias employs a set of security procedures to ensure maximum security on each of its servers, including disabling all unnecessary services and processes and regular application of security-related patches to the operating system and critical system applications. Regular external vulnerability scans are performed to verify that only services intended to be available are accessible.
Regular detailed audits of the server configuration are performed to verify that the configurations comply with current best security practices. Passwords and other access means are changed on a regular schedule and are revoked whenever a staff member’s employment is terminated.
Access to Registry System
Access to all production systems and software is strictly limited to authorized operations staff members. Access to technical support and network operations teams where necessary are read only and limited only to components required to help troubleshoot customer issues and perform routine checks. Strict change control procedures are in place and are followed each time a change is required to the production hardware⁄application. User rights are kept to a minimum at all times. In the event of a staff member’s employment termination, all access is removed immediately.
Afilias applications use encrypted network communications. Access to the registry server is controlled. Afilias allows access to an authorized registrar only if each of the authentication factors matches the specific requirements of the requested authorization. These mechanisms are also used to secure any Web-based tools that allow authorized registrars to access the registry. Additionally, all write transactions in the registry (whether conducted by authorized registrars or the registryʹs own personnel) are logged.
EPP connections are encrypted using TLS⁄SSL, and mutually authenticated using both certificate checks and login⁄password combinations. Web connections are encrypted using TLS⁄SSL for an encrypted tunnel to the browser, and authenticated to the EPP server using login⁄password combinations.
All systems are monitored for security breaches from within the data center and without, using both system-based and network-based testing tools. Operations staff also monitor systems for security-related performance anomalies. Triple-redundant continual monitoring ensures multiple detection paths for any potential incident or problem. Details are provided in the responsse to Questions 30B and 42 of this application. Network Operations and Security Operations teams perform regular audits in search of any potential vulnerability.
To ensure that registrar hosts configured erroneously or maliciously cannot deny service to other registrars, Afilias uses traffic-shaping technologies to prevent attacks from any single registrar account, IP address, or subnet. This additional layer of security reduces the likelihood of performance degradation for all registrars, even in the case of a security compromise at a subset of registrars.
There is a clear accountability policy that defines what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable on the part of non-staff users, staff users, and management. Periodic audits of policies and procedures are performed to ensure that any weaknesses are discovered and addressed. Aggressive escalation procedures and well-defined Incident Response management procedures ensure that decision makers are involved at early stages of any event.
In short, security is a consideration in every aspect of business at Afilias, and this is evidenced in a track record of a decade of secure, stable, and reliable service.
Supporting operational excellence as an example of security practices, Afilias performs a number of internal and external security audits each year of the existing policies, procedures and practices for:
- Access control;
- Security policies;
- Production change control;
- Backups and restores;
- Batch monitoring;
- Intrusion detection; and
- Physical security.
Afilias has an annual Type 2 SSAE 16 audit performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Further, PwC performs testing of the general information technology controls in support of the financial statement audit. A Type 2 report opinion under SSAE 16 covers whether the controls were properly designed, were in place, and operating effectively during the audit period (calendar year). This SSAE 16 audit includes testing of internal controls relevant to Afiliasʹ domain registry system and processes. The report includes testing of key controls related to the following control objectives:
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that registrar account balances and changes to the registrar account balances are authorized, complete, accurate, and timely.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that billable transactions are recorded in the Shared Registry System (SRS) in a complete, accurate, and timely manner.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that revenue is systemically calculated by the Deferred Revenue System (DRS) in a complete, accurate, and timely manner.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that the summary and detail reports, invoices, statements, registrar and registry billing data files, and ICANN transactional reports provided to registry operator(s) are complete, accurate, and timely.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that new applications and changes to existing applications are authorized, tested, approved, properly implemented, and documented.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that changes to existing system software and implementation of new system software are authorized, tested, approved, properly implemented, and documented.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that physical access to data centers is restricted to properly authorized individuals.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that logical access to system resources is restricted to properly authorized individuals.
- Controls provide reasonable assurance that processing and backups are appropriately authorized and scheduled and that deviations from scheduled processing and backups are identified and resolved.
The last Type 2 report issued was for the year 2010, and it was unqualified, i.e., all systems were evaluated with no material problems found.
During each year, Afilias monitors the key controls related to the SSAE controls. Changes or additions to the control objectives or activities can result due to deployment of new services, software enhancements, infrastructure changes or process enhancements. These are noted and after internal review and approval, adjustments are made for the next review.
In addition to the PricewaterhouseCoopers engagement, Afilias performs internal security audits twice per year. These assessments are constantly being expanded based on risk assessments and changes in business or technology.
Additionally, Afilias engages an independent third-party security organization, PivotPoint Security, to perform external vulnerability assessments and penetration tests on the sites hosting and managing the Registry infrastructure. These assessments are performed with major infrastructure changes, release of new services or major software enhancements. These independent assessments are performed at least annually. A report from a recent assessment is attached with the response to Question 30B of this application.
Afilias has engaged with security companies specializing in application and Web security testing to ensure the security of Web-based applications offered by Afilias, such as the Web Admin Tool (WAT) for registrars and registry operators.
Finally, Afilias has engaged IBM’s Security services division to perform ISO 27002 gap assessment studies so as to review alignment of Afilias’ procedures and policies with the ISO 27002 standard. Afilias has since made adjustments to its security procedures and policies based on the recommendations by IBM.
Special gTLD Considerations
Afilias’ rigorous security practices are regularly reviewed; if there is a need to alter or augment procedures for the .MARRIOTT gTLD, they will be done so in a planned and deliberate manner.
Commitments to Registrant Protection
With over a decade of experience protecting domain registration data, Afilias understands registrant security concerns. Afilias supports a “thick” registry system in which data for all objects are stored in the registry database that is the centralized authoritative source of information. As an active member of IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), ICANN’s SSAC (Security and Stability Advisory Committee), APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group), MAAWG (Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group), USENIX, and ISACA (Information Systems Audits and Controls Association), the Afilias team is highly attuned to the potential threats and leading tools and procedures for mitigating threats. As such, registrants should be confident that:
- Any confidential information stored within the registry will remain confidential;
- The interaction between their registrar and Afilias is secure;
- The Afilias DNS system will be reliable and accessible from any location;
- The registry system will abide by all polices, including those that address registrant data; and
- Afilias will not introduce any features or implement technologies that compromise access to the registry system or that compromise registrant security.
Afilias has directly contributed to the development of the documents listed below and we have implemented them where appropriate. All of these have helped improve registrants’ ability to protect their domains name(s) during the domain name lifecycle.
- [SAC049]: SSAC Report on DNS Zone Risk Assessment and Management (03 June 2011)
- [SAC044]: A Registrantʹs Guide to Protecting Domain Name Registration Accounts (05 November 2010)
- [SAC040]: Measures to Protect Domain Registration Services Against Exploitation or Misuse (19 August 2009)
- [SAC028]: SSAC Advisory on Registrar Impersonation Phishing Attacks (26 May 2008)
- [SAC024]: Report on Domain Name Front Running (February 2008)
- [SAC022]: Domain Name Front Running (SAC022, SAC024) (20 October 2007)
- [SAC011]: Problems caused by the non-renewal of a domain name associated with a DNS Name Server (7 July 2006)
- [SAC010]: Renewal Considerations for Domain Name Registrants (29 June 2006)
- [SAC007]: Domain Name Hijacking Report (SAC007) (12 July 2005)
To protect any unauthorized modification of registrant data, Afilias mandates TLS⁄SSL transport (per RFC 5246) and authentication methodologies for access to the registry applications. Authorized registrars are required to supply a list of specific individuals (five to ten people) who are authorized to contact the registry. Each such individual is assigned a pass phrase. Any support requests made by an authorized registrar to registry customer service are authenticated by registry customer service. All failed authentications are logged and reviewed regularly for potential malicious activity. This prevents unauthorized changes or access to registrant data by individuals posing to be registrars or their authorized contacts.
These items reflect an understanding of the importance of balancing data privacy and access for registrants, both individually and as a collective, worldwide user base.
The Afilias 24⁄7 Customer Service Center consists of highly trained staff who collectively are proficient in 15 languages, and who are capable of responding to queries from registrants whose domain name security has been compromised, for example, a victim of domain name hijacking. Afilias provides specialized registrant assistance guides, including specific hand-holding and follow-through in these kinds of commonly occurring circumstances, which can be highly distressing to registrants
Security Resourcing Plans
Please refer to the response to Question 30B for security resourcing plans.
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