NEW YORK – Back in 2016, the ICA, (The Internet Commerce Association) asked me a very important question; they asked what I thought would be some of the biggest challenges the domain industry would face in the coming years.
While some might answer that question with suggestions about the difficulties new gTLDs may bring toward branding, or monetization strategies with domain parking from declining CPCs, my answer was likely very – very different than most domainers. This is because I saw and still see something much different coming down the pike. It’s less about operating your domain and more about keeping it.
Here was my answer on October 12, 2016:
As the industry grows and matures, which we are really seeing in just the last couple of years, I feel regulation will be its biggest challenge. As advertising and commerce begins to depend near entirely on the Internet in some way, shape or form, whether it is finding the service you need, or actually purchasing it, the net and these addresses become critical to the exchange; more and more control over the system will be sought, and once you have too many agencies and laws involved, more and more of it will become difficult and ‘no so much fun’ anymore. We may still have another 20 years, or so, maybe less. But one of the only reasons there has been so much innovation and free-opportunity in domains and the Internet, is that it has all been largely misunderstood for so long. You can’t regulate something you don’t first at least understand. But everyone is coming around now, the net is here and it’s in all of our lives in near every second of every day, from our phones to our cars to our appliances. And Corporations will work their way in to gobble everything up, not by participation or innovation, but by law.
This is clearly happening and we’re seeing bits and pieces of it every day.
From nonsensical UDRPs (One LLL.com WIPO after another), new European Union data and privacy regulations causing havoc to the WhoIs business and site operators regardless of their territory (General Data Protection Regulation) removal of free-thought and free speech (Registrar, services, suspension), Domain-Bullying (The atrocity of misutilizing a legal-process to ultimately win and get what you want, which we all witnessed with HeidiPowell.com) to outright domain theft (France.com); the Internet is not the safe haven it once was.
- When you have enough resources and enough money behind you, maybe you do not need to follow the rules, pay for what you want, or play fair?
- Maybe if you do not like someone’s opinion or the content on their website, you can find some legal means of making it go away?
- Maybe it doesn’t even matter anymore if you were smarter or more sophisticated about how you built the foundation of your business?
- Maybe it doesn’t matter that you thought about it first or did it first.
- Maybe taking something great from someone else is easier and cheaper than making it yourself; could even be legal and legitimate depending on the situation?
Is your business in someone’s Corporate or Governmental Crosshairs?
It’s a good time to start thinking about the services we all use and their historical record on who puts up the best and strongest fight for domain owners’ rights. Which firms best follow the proper processes of notification, realistic push-back to initial requests for transfer, validation of the facts, and following the letter of the law to a “T”, so that all parties have the proper venue and time to act, and or react to a request, demand, etc.
Just because you have something today, doesn’t mean you’re going to have it tomorrow. How many more examples do we need?
Be as prepared and as ready as you can, by thinking about it all now, because you might not be able to think about it in the same way then. I’m simply suggesting you have all of your ‘i’s’ dotted, and your ‘T’s’ crossed because it never hurts to be ready.
When I drive my car in busy traffic here in New York people are often amazed that when someone cuts me off or does something stupid on the road, I don’t yell and scream and blare my horn all over, like most do. That is because I’m expecting it from everyone on the road around me at every moment. I wasn’t surprised or shocked or shaken; I was prepared for it. I was already waiting for it to happen. I call it offensive not defensive driving.