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Digital Matrixx customer notice

7 July 2016 00:46:15 +0000

It has come to our attention that customers of Digital Matrixx, formerly of Abbotsford, BC, appear to have been abandoned. If this describes your situation, NinerNet Communications may in some cases be able to help you.

Unfortunately it appears that the domains of many of Digital Matrixx’s customers were actually registered in the name of Digital Matrixx, rather than the names of their rightful owners. This was not necessarily the result of malice, but probably expediency and a lack of foresight or knowledge on the part of Digital Matrixx. (To compare, that would be like your real estate agent registering your new house in his or her name “because it’s easier.”) However, the result is that now the rightful owners of those domains have no control over them and cannot take the necessary action to get their domains back online again, or even renew them.

We do not have a list of customers or contact information for any of them, so if you are a former Digital Matrixx customer you need to take the initiative to contact us to see if we are in a position to be able to help you. (We do have a list of 179 domains that we may be able to assist with.) You can contact us at the same email address that Digital Matrixx used to use — info@thepostaloffice.com — or via one of the methods listed on our contact page. While we have not bought or acquired Digital Matrixx, we have acquired their former domain — thepostaloffice.com — through the normal domain expiry process. (The same applies to the domain they used to use for nameservers, securelinksserver.com.) Because many of the domains registered by Digital Matrixx use the info@thepostaloffice.com email address as an email contact, we can now in some cases help some rightful domain owners.

Please read the following information carefully.

What we can do for some former customers:

  • We can help some people regain control of their domain registrations.

What we cannot do for you:

  • We do not have any access to websites or email on any domains. In some cases we may be able to retrieve copies of websites from public caches, but this takes time and effort. We can determine the probability of success and give you a quote to make a copy based on our hourly rate. We can also refer you to web designers or make recommendations for economical options.

What we require:

  • To assist anyone to regain control of their domain we require scanned or high-resolution photographed copies of documentation to connect you to the domain. This could include at least two items from the following non-exhaustive list:
    • business licence (municipal),
    • business registration (federal or provincial),
    • an invoice from Digital Matrixx or the owner of the company, or
    • a cancelled cheque or some form of proof of payment to Digital Matrixx or the owner of the company.
  • If we are able to assist you to regain control of your domain, we will require you to transfer the registration to a new NinerNet domain registration account. (We have no way to give you access to the account where it is currently located.) This will require you to agree to a standard registration agreement, which you will be presented during the process to effect a registrar transfer of your domain. Following this transfer your domain registration period will be extended one further year (or more as described below) beyond its current expiry date, and the contact information will be changed from that of Digital Matrixx to the contact information of your choice.
  • In order to enter the contact information of your choice, you’ll need to send it to us: registrant company, registrant contact name, registrant mailing address, registrant email address, and registrant phone number. Per the registration agreement, this information all needs to be valid. Once we have that information from you we will send you an invoice based on our current domain renewal rates for the renewal period of your choice (up to ten years). On payment of the invoice we will initiate the registrar transfer, which will usually complete within a week of all of the steps being completed by you. Once that completes we will send you the log-in information for your domain registration account. Also per the registration agreement and as dictated by ICANN, you will not be able to transfer your domain registration to another registrar for 60 days; however, after that 60 days you are free to manage your domain as you see fit.
  • You can, however, set new nameservers immediately so that you can set up new hosting for your domain or redirect it to another domain. You are not obligated to host your website and/or email with NinerNet, but we’ve been in the hosting business for twenty years and seen companies like Digital Matrixx come and go. Our hosting rates are available on our website and we are very willing and able to answer your questions and give you advice on how to proceed.

We look forward to being able to assist you, as we have done already for some former Digital Matrixx customers.

iDNS Canada: Another year, another domain scam

9 January 2016 23:24:31 +0000
iDNS Canada domain name expiration notice.

iDNS Canada domain name expiration notice

Looking very much like the “invoices” sent out years ago by the heavily-fined (and, at various times, suspended by both ICANN and CIRA) so-called Domain Registry of Canada (also known as Internet Registry of Canada, Domain Registry of America, Domain Registry of Europe, NameJuice.com, Brandon Gray Internet Services Inc. and many more), the “not a bill” “domain name expiration notice” received by NinerNet Communications recently reminds us that some people only know how to do business dishonestly — or at the very least on the fringes of legality.

Although it could have been copied, the notice received by us from “iDNS Canada” is almost identical to those of the Domain Registry of America sent out in previous years, and the maple leaf used in the iDNS Canada logo is indeed identical to that used by the Domain Registry of Canada in previous notices.

Let’s analyse a few aspects of this friendly and helpful “domain name expiration notice”:

  • Their website domain on their notice is idns.as, the dot-as country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) being registered to American Samoa, a south Pacific island nation. Trying to load the website at that address results in a redirection to idns.to, the dot-to ccTLD being registered to Tonga, another south Pacific island nation. I suspect they didn’t register a dot-ca domain because they’re not flavour of the month down at CIRA headquarters (assuming a connection, which is not much of a stretch), and might have had their domain suspended in short order had they registered a dot-ca.
  • The footer of their website claims that they are “Internet Domain Name Services Inc.” — a name also used on the return envelope in which you’re supposed to send your cheque (or credit card number) and payment stub. Their contact page (when loaded from a computer in Canada) offers the same box number address in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that is on their notice (delivered to our Canadian address; more on that in a moment), which is located in Bridlewood Mall, where there is a Canada Post outlet hosted by Shoppers Drug Mart offering post office boxes.
  • If you load their contact page from a computer located in the United States (or the United Kingdom, actually), the contact page offers a suite number address at 924 Bergen Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States of America. A quick check shows this to be a UPS Store, so the “suite number” is also actually a mail box number.
  • On their contact page is an email address on the idnsinc.net domain, which is registered to the same company at the same box number in Jersey City in the US.

There are three notable things about this notice:

  • First of all, the notice refers to ninernet.com, a secondary domain that we use but which is registered to our US address. However, it was sent to our primary Canadian address, which is also on the same contact page on our website as our US and Zambian addresses.
  • As with the almost identical Domain Registry of Canada and Domain Registry of America phoney invoices, the “notice” from iDNS Canada makes reference to another “available” domain (in this case ninernet.BIZ) and invites us to send in payment to register it. However, ninernet.biz is not available; it has been registered by us since 2010. There is no indication on the notice what would happen to this extra money if we decided to send it in to register this additional unavailable domain.
  • Finally, while similar such “notices” in the past have included fine print that authorises the sender to transfer the registration of the domain from under the management of the existing registrar to management by the sender of the so-called solicitation (a process referred to as “domain slamming“), this one doesn’t include any such fine print. In fact, there isn’t even any indication on the “notice” that sending money to iDNS Canada (aka Internet Domain Name Services Inc.) will obligate them to do anything, as they have no way to renew a domain that is not under their control!

So don’t send them money, as you’re almost certainly sending money into a black hole from which you will likely see no service and from which you will probably be unable to retrieve it!

As always, if you receive any kind of communication from a third-party (with whom you don’t already have an established and trusted relationship) about your domain — via postal mail, email, telephone, fax or even smoke signal — be suspicious, be wary. If you’re not sure whether or not it is legitimate, please contact us about it and we will be more than happy to take a look and advise you whether or not it is legitimate.


Delaying tactics by Network Solutions

21 January 2015 23:55:41 +0000

Businesses hate to lose customers, there’s no question of that. We hate to lose customers, there’s also no question of that. When a client tells us that they will be closing their account with us for one reason or another — it happens! — we’ll ask if there is anything we can do to keep their business. More often than not we’ll learn (often to our surprise) that the client is actually closing shop, and they’re not moving to another hosting provider — which is a bit of a relief (to us) in that we know they’re not leaving because of something we did, or something we didn’t do.

Sometimes, of course, the client is actually moving to a new hosting provider. As we’ve stated before, we do say that we’re sorry to see them go — and we mean it — and we ask if there’s anything we can do to keep their business, but if they’re committed then we back off. Importantly, we also don’t do anything to impede their progress into the sunset. In our opinion, that would be unprofessional, and we’d then deserve to lose that business. And given the number of clients that end up returning to us months or a year or two later, we’d be idiots to burn that bridge.

So it was interesting to learn today that Network Solutions (owned by Web.com) has apparently (at some point) implemented a three day waiting period if you ask for the “auth code” for a domain registered through them. (The authorisation code is required to effect a domain transfer from one registrar to another.) Now, it is our assertion that every domain name owner should ask for and make a note of the auth code for their domain as soon as it’s registered, and should also change it (if permitted by the registry) after a registrar transfer. (There is a long history of domain owners being caught flat-footed in times of crisis without this information.) But most of our incoming clients have not done that, and so now this client is being held hostage by Network Solutions for three days, waiting for the information — information they already own — that they need to effect the transfer they want to make. Network Solutions give the following reason, after a couple of screens of FUD-generating warnings of imminent Armageddon that are clearly designed to scare the domain owner into not obtaining the information to which they are entitled:

Your request for an Auth Code has been received and your information will be validated to ensure the security of your account. If your request is approved, you will receive your Auth Code by email in 3 days.

To cancel this request, please call one of our Customer Service Representatives at 1-800-779-4903.

Thank you.

Now, it’s all well and good that Network Solutions claims (or hides behind) the excuse of “[ensuring] the security of your account” (which is not surprising, considering they were responsible for one of the biggest screw ups in domain history when they allowed the fraudulent registrant transfer of a domain registered with them back when they held the monopoly on gTLD registrations), but this is clearly a delaying tactic to give the customer time to lose the will to transfer because now it’s just too much of a problem, too much effort, too complicated, too time-consuming … or whatever negative feeling develops in the mind of the domain owner as he or she spends three days mulling over (and perhaps having nightmares about) the things they read in the two screens of dire warnings before finally screwing up the courage to click the “yes, I really do want my auth code” button.

Shame on you, Network Solutions, for impeding the progress of this customer who has decided — as they’re free to do — to move their business to a competitor. But this is not surprising of a company that has a longer list of “controversies” listed in their Wikipedia article than most companies, along with those of their former parent company Verisign. They both also appear prominently in the “Domain name scams” article, as well as here on our own blog.

Domain contact information MUST be valid

15 January 2014 11:38:43 +0000

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) — the organisation in charge of all generic top-level domains (e.g., dot-com, dot-net, dot-org, etc., and the upcoming new gTLDs) — has introduced new rules that came into effect on 1 January.

The rule most likely to affect you at some point is the requirement for a valid email address associated with your domain. People generally register a new domain with a working email address, but over time that address may stop working for one reason or another. ICANN have taken steps to ensure that such a situation is not perpetuated.

Effective 1 January, if one of our automated emails to a contact address for your domain bounces, we are required to send you a verification email asking you to click a link in the email to confirm that your address does actually work. Of course, you’ll only receive that email if your email address has started working again in the meantime. Unfortunately, if you do not receive and act on the instructions in the verification email, we will have no choice but to suspend your domain, which will automatically happen fifteen (15) days after the first verification email is sent. If your domain is suspended, any services (email, websites, etc.) that rely on it will stop working until you respond and update the email address in your domain account. This is an ICANN rule applicable to all registrars and domain registrants, and we are contractually obligated to comply with it.

You may receive the same verification email when you register a new domain, when you transfer an existing domain into your domain account with NinerNet from another domain registrar, or when you change the contact information for your domain.

Please take this opportunity to log into your domain account (if your domain is registered with us) to check the contact information we have on record for your domain(s). If the contact email address you see there no longer works, exists or is no longer controlled by you, please update it immediately. (You will then receive a verification email, and you must follow the instructions in that email to complete the change to your contact details.) If you have multiple domains, you can update all of them at the same time. If you need the log-in information for your domain account sent to you, please advise us of that. Please note that your domain account is different and separate from your hosting account, and needs to be maintained separately by you. Thank-you for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions, please contact support. Thank-you.

Phoney legal notice alert!

15 October 2010 05:19:54 +0000

“Domain Support Group” and “VeriSign”

6 June 2002 (original posting date on NinerNet website)

On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings we received faxes from a company calling itself “Domain Support Group”, located in New York, USA. These faxes are designed to look like legal notices, with much quoting of legal tracts and the dropping of legal phrases often quoted in the news these days such as “intellectual property”, “bad faith”, “dilution of trademark”, “Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy”, “complainant”, “false descriptions”, “in accordance with the United States legal code”, etc. They also contain an official-looking account number and the warning; “You are required to advise the notification processor of your intent to license this domain on or before the expiration of this notice.”

These notices are designed to scare you into registering a dot-us domain (at an unspecified price) that may be similar to a domain that you already own. We called these people in response to the faxes we received but, once they realised we were onto their game, they were not very forthcoming with information. Through other sources we have determined that they are trying to charge several hundred dollars for a domain (which makes sense considering the legalese in the notice), something you can buy from most domain registrars (including NinerNet) for about $25.

The first notice you may receive is titled “URGENT NOTICE OF DOMAIN EXTENSION”, and it gives you 24 hours to respond. The notice you will receive 24 hours later is titled “FINAL NOTICE”. Both notices are addressed to the attention of the “Business owner or manager”.

Please ignore both of these notices. If you do receive a notice from these people and you feel so inclined, you might consider reporting this to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States and/or your local authorities if you are not located in the US.

It has also come to our attention that the same company even cold calls domain owners, trying to get them to renew, register or transfer domains (in TLDs other than dot-us as well) — all you have to do is give them your credit card number!

This is yet another example of the sleazy practices that are being used to try and get people to register or transfer domains without full disclosure of the possible consequences. In January we warned you about the so-called Domain Registry of Canada — today we received yet another of their phony invoices. (You can refresh your memory about that scam on our site.)

Yet another example was stopped by the American courts recently, this one perpetrated by the company that wants you to trust them — VeriSign (formerly trading in the domain business as Network Solutions), whose slogan is “The Value of Trust”. They sent out some intimidating notices, even to their own existing clients, threatening them with dire consequences if they did not renew with or transfer their domain to VeriSign.

If you receive any notice via e-mail, fax or postal mail (or even smoke signal for that matter), no matter how official or legal it looks, please take a moment to review it to see if it is legitimate. If you have any doubt, we would be more than happy to look at it for you. In the confusing world of the competitive domain-registration business, it can be very easy to forget who you chose to handle the registration of your domain last year (or beyond). These companies are counting on you to forget.

To read this notice on our site and see copies of notices received from both VeriSign and the “Domain Support Group”, please see www.niner.net/dsg.html. As usual, thanks very much for your time.

Scanned images of “Domain Support Group” and VeriSign notices:

Phoney invoice alert!

14 October 2010 20:00:52 +0000

“Domain Registry of Canada” and “Internet Registry of Canada”

5 January 2002 (original posting date on NinerNet website)

Once again we find it necessary to issue a warning about realistic-looking “invoices” for domain renewals. We brought this up in July last year, and the same company is attempting the same thing under a different name. What was called the “Internet Registry of Canada” is now attempting to scare you into renewing your domains with them under the name of “Domain Registry of Canada” (noted on the “invoice” as “a registered business style of 1446513 Ontario Limited”).

When we brought this to your attention last year, one of the three major complaints levelled by the likes of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian government’s Competition Bureau was that the “invoices” looked too much like they were issued by a Canadian government department. The new “invoices” are almost identical, although the Canadian flag has been replaced with a bigger maple leaf. (See the end of this message for links to bulletins issued by the RCMP and the Competition Bureau, a link to scans of an “invoice”, and a textual description of the “invoice”.)

The second major complaint was, as implied above, that these solicitations looked too much like an official invoice from an existing supplier, and that an unsuspecting employee or even business owner might pay the “invoice” resulting in unintended consequences (including your Web site and e-mail going down). This has not changed — the solicitations still look like invoices.

Third was the strong language used, implying that you were in imminent jeopardy of losing your domain if you did not act immediately and send payment to the soliciting company. Again, this has not changed, although the language has been moderated slightly and, buried amongst the other promotional text, is a statement that the invoice-like solicitation “is not an invoice” but rather an “easy means of payment” should you be fooled. However, as with the previous scam, the “invoice” states that your “current domain name must be renewed” (emphasis is on the “invoice”).

As before, one of the goals of these “invoices” is to get you to transfer your domain from your current registrar to the “Domain Registry of Canada”. Another goal is to convince you to needlessly register numerous variations of your domain, potentially quadrupling your annual domain fees. Space is provided for your credit card number should you choose to actually send such sensitive information to a company with such questionable business practices.

Although this company is seeking to have you transfer your domain to them, the very fine print (requiring a magnifying glass and strong light to read) on the back of the “invoice” states that “you agree to provide written, signed authorization to DRoC for the transfer of the domain name to another registrar and agree to pay any and all fees that may be charged by DRoC to effect the transfer.” This policy is clearly designed to make it easy for you to transfer your domain to them from your current registrar, but very difficult to transfer back to your chosen registrar and away from “Domain Registry of Canada” once you realise that you have been scammed. Such a policy is known as “domain hijacking”, and there other examples of this unethical practice — please see the links at the bottom. This policy also goes against international agreements governed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), to which “Domain Registry of Canada” is either directly or indirectly a party.

A similar scheme was practised by some unscrupulous companies back when the long-distance telephone market was deregulated in both Canada and the United States. It had a very descriptive term — “slamming”. If I remember correctly, the process involved the victim endorsing a low-value cheque payable to the victim from the new long-distance company, with the fine print stating that you wished to switch from your current long-distance carrier to the new one. This practise was outlawed, but regulators have been playing catch-up with the Internet since day one.

So how do you know if an invoice you received is genuine, and how do you find out when your domain really expires? Because domains are renewed on an annual (or longer) basis and we are all used to receiving monthly invoices to remind us to pay for services, it’s easy to forget the answers to both of those questions. It has even happened to Microsoft, believe it or not, when they forgot to renew microsoft.com. The best way to find out is to go to a reputable domain registrar, or the site of the single registration authority (from which registrars get their authority) for your top-level domain (TLD). In the case of Register.com, just use the form on their home page to check your domain. Since your domain is “taken” (by you, of course), you can click on the link on the page displaying the results of your search, and you will see a new page detailing (among other things) who your current registrar is and when your domain expires. If your domain really is about to expire, you can then go to your registrar’s home page and use their Web site to renew your domain. If all else fails, please contact us if you are not sure and we will decisively determine when your domain expires, who your registrar is, and who you should be paying.

As an aside, NinerNet Communications recently started accepting domain registrations. While we still think that Register.com is one of the best registrars out there (and certainly far superior to the likes of Network Solutions / Verisign), we would be happy and honoured to accept new domain registrations, renewals and transfers. Since this is a new service, we don’t yet have an automated system in place. Please contact us for the details.

Finally, here is a description of an official-looking “invoice” sent out by the “Domain Registry of Canada”. It arrives in a #10, plain, brown window envelope with a red maple leaf in the top, left-hand corner and the words “Domain Registry of Canada” to the right of the maple leaf. A similar layout is reproduced at the top of the actual “invoice”, which is printed on white paper using black and red ink. It refers to a domain that is probably registered to you and warns you that you risk “loss of your online identity” and that your “current domain name must be renewed” (emphasis is on the “invoice”). It then suggests several possible renewal periods for your existing domain (up to five years) and then suggests several other similar domains that you should register. Payment is accepted by cheque or credit card and is requested to be sent to a post office box in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada. A white return envelope (requiring postage) is included, completing the invoice-like package.

Sorry this was so long, but we felt that this was important enough to warrant a full explanation. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.

Here are some links pertinent to this scam:

Scanned images of an “invoice” package:

Vital update for registrants of existing third- and fourth-level dot-ca domains!

12 October 2010 05:30:03 +0000

5 October 2010 (original posting date on NinerNet website)

Further to our email of 17 September regarding the upcoming changes that the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is making to the dot-ca domain system, we have some new news that really is vital for you to know if the following conditions all apply to your dot-ca domain:

  • You own a third-level dot-ca domain (e.g., example.bc.ca) or a fourth-level dot-ca domain (e.g., example.vancouver.bc.ca), AND
  • The second level of your domain (e.g., example.ca) is not registered, AND
  • Nobody else has your name registered at another provincial level (e.g., you own example.bc.ca and someone else owns example.on.ca).

This email is being sent only to those clients we know meet all of the above three criteria.

Contrary to what we were told by CIRA last month, if you do not register your domain at the second level (e.g., example.ca) before 12 October, you will not be able to do so on or after 12 October. Your domain at the second level (e.g., example.ca) will be indefinitely blocked. You will still have the use of your third- or fourth-level domain unless or until you let it expire. In fact, the only way, after 12 October, for you to register your domain at the second level will be to allow any other domains you have at the third and fourth level to expire. Even then, there is no mechanism in place that gives you first dibs on your domain at the second level, so if someone is quicker on their mouse than you at the moment your third- or fourth-level domain expires (a moment that cannot be predicted with any certainty or guarantee), they might get it before you and you will completely lose your rights to your name.

With the above new information in mind, please contact us immediately (or at the very least on or before Monday, 11 October) if you want to register your dot-ca domain at the second level before you lose that ability permanently. We’ll be following up this email with personal phone calls today and tomorrow to ensure that you’re fully aware of the situation.

Dot-ca domain registry changes, 12 October 2010

11 October 2010 23:53:53 +0000

17 September 2010 (original posting date on NinerNet website)

Overview

In October, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) will be making sweeping changes to their system for registering dot-ca domains. However, they have done almost nothing to communicate details about these coming changes to dot-ca domain holders and the Canadian public at large — i.e., potential dot-ca domain registrants. We got wind of these changes last week, but it took until this week for us to be able to extract the details below from CIRA after a flurry of emails and a phone call this week.

In the middle of all of that, CIRA did finally send an extremely vague email to dot-ca domain registrants. We received our copy on 10 September; the subject of the email was “Information Regarding the New .CA Registry”. This held about as much detail — i.e., almost none — as the press release on the CIRA website and the FAQ buried so deep you could be forgiven for missing it. There is another page on the CIRA website with slightly more detail, but the only reason we know about that is because the address was given to us over the phone earlier this week.

An opportunity

But in all of this complaining about the lack of communication from CIRA, there’s actually a potential fun side to consider. It’s worth reading (or skipping) to the end, because this is a time-limited opportunity to own a rather unique — and potentially amusing — piece of Canadian Internet history. For example, consider the-canucks-rule-in.vancouver.bc.ca. Or how about this odd domain?: i-need-directions-to.toronto.bc.ca.

5 OCTOBER 2010: Vital update for registrants of existing third- and fourth-level dot-ca domains!

Further to our email of 17 September regarding the upcoming changes that the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is making to the dot-ca domain system, we have some new news that really is vital for you to know if the following conditions all apply to your dot-ca domain:

  • You own a third-level dot-ca domain (e.g., example.bc.ca) or a fourth-level dot-ca domain (e.g., example.vancouver.bc.ca), AND
  • The second level of your domain (e.g., example.ca) is not registered, AND
  • Nobody else has your name registered at another provincial level (e.g., you own example.bc.ca and someone else owns example.on.ca).

This email is being sent only to those clients we know meet all of the above three criteria.

Contrary to what we were told by CIRA last month, if you do not register your domain at the second level (e.g., example.ca) before 12 October, you will not be able to do so on or after 12 October. Your domain at the second level (e.g., example.ca) will be indefinitely blocked. You will still have the use of your third- or fourth-level domain unless or until you let it expire. In fact, the only way, after 12 October, for you to register your domain at the second level will be to allow any other domains you have at the third and fourth level to expire. Even then, there is no mechanism in place that gives you first dibs on your domain at the second level, so if someone is quicker on their mouse than you at the moment your third- or fourth-level domain expires (a moment that cannot be predicted with any certainty or guarantee), they might get it before you and you will completely lose your rights to your name.

With the above new information in mind, please contact us immediately (or at the very least on or before Monday, 11 October) if you want to register your dot-ca domain at the second level before you lose that ability permanently. We’ll be following up this email with personal phone calls today and tomorrow to ensure that you’re fully aware of the situation.

But seriously …

But first the serious stuff. Unfortunately, the email from CIRA mentioned above leaves out some very important information that is nowhere to be found on the CIRA website. Even the important information that is available is buried, and it was only through a series of emails with CIRA (before they sent out the email on 10 September) and a twenty-minute phone call this week that we managed to extract the apparently top secret information below.

As of the date (see below for dates) of the overhaul of the dot-ca registry:

  • Third- and fourth-level dot-ca domains will no longer be allowed.
  • Domains will be automatically renewed.
  • Registrant profiles will cease to exist.

At the moment, despite our attempts to clarify the process of automatic renewal with CIRA, this aspect is still unclear. It should not mean that you are automatically charged for another year on your domain unless you opt out. Certainly, that’s not what it will mean if your dot-ca domain is registered with NinerNet, if we have any say in the matter. The last point on registrant profiles is actually a good thing; the old system of registrant profiles was a dog’s breakfast, to put it politely.

Third- and fourth-level domains?

The first point — on third- and fourth-level domains — is the one of interest to us, and will affect different people in different ways. The most important thing though is that, if you already own (or register before the cutover) a third- or fourth-level dot-ca domain, you will get to keep it. (Don’t ever let it expire though, or you will lose it forever.)

But what are third- and fourth-level domains anyway? Here are some examples:

  • Fourth-level domain: yourname.vancouver.bc.ca
  • Third-level domain: yourname.bc.ca
  • Second-level domain: yourname.ca

This is how the coming changes will affect people:

  • In the future you will only be able to register yourname.ca, not yourname.bc.ca or yourname.vancouver.bc.ca.
  • Even if you already own yourname.bc.ca and so have the right to register yourname.on.ca or yourname.winnipeg.mb.ca before anyone else, you will no longer be able to register anything but yourname.ca, assuming it’s available.
  • If, due to grandfathering, you own yourname.bc.ca and someone else owns yourname.sk.ca, there will still be a block on registering yourname.ca.
  • If you own yourname.bc.ca and nobody else owns yourname.ca or yourname.XX.ca (where XX is a provincial or territorial abbreviation), then you will still have a block on yourname.ca — i.e., nobody but you can register yourname.ca. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE! Please see the update in the pink box at the top of the page.

When does this go into effect?

When does all of this take place? The new system officially goes into effect at 6:00 am Pacific time on Tuesday 12 October, and the dot-ca registry will be offline during the transition until 6:00 am Pacific time on Wednesday 13 October. (CIRA has decreed that there be no overlap period, so it better work right the first time!) However, there is a lead-in period of one week before 12 October during which there will be a moratorium on certain activities. (To be on the safe side, consider 4 October to be your deadline to all intents and purposes.) All of these are activities that require you to log into the CIRA website to confirm your choices — which is most things outside of changing the technical contact for your domain. If you have any concerns about your dot-ca domain and what you might want to do with it between now and the middle of October, please contact NinerNet support for details, or see the CIRA website for details.

There are two notable exceptions, as far as we have been able determine:

  • There will be no interruption of the registration of new domains.
  • If you want to register a “Conflicting Domain Name”, you must do so by 27 September. For example, you own yourname.bc.ca and want to register yourname.ab.ca, but someone already owns yourname.nl.ca. This is considered a “Conflicting Domain Name” and you cannot register yourname.ab.ca without the express consent of the owner of yourname.nl.ca. Because you will not be able to register yourname.ab.ca at all after 12 October, if you have any designs on this type of domain you must take action before 27 September.

Why register a third- or fourth-level domain?

But besides all of the above, the next few weeks are your last chance to own a third- or fourth-level dot-ca domain. Thousands of them exist. Here are some:

Besides simply wanting to own a .XX.ca domain, there’s a good reason to own them if you’re an organisation or business with distinct units in multiple provinces and territories. Consider the fictitious XYZ Corporation. The head office website and email would be on the xyzcorp.ca domain, while the Yukon office would use the xyzcorp.yk.ca domain for their email and website. And so on. It sure beats xyzcorpcanada.com and xyzcorpcanadayukon.com.

Now for the fun stuff

Apart from the fact that third- and fourth-level dot-ca domains are going the way of the dodo bird, and so you might want to grab your own piece of Canadian Internet history while you can, how about having some fun with it? Consider domains like the following, with or without the hyphens:

  • Advertise where you live:
    • craig-lives-in.vancouver.bc.ca
  • Advertise what you’re looking for and where:
    • looking-for-a-good-time-in.fredericton.nb.ca
  • Say something political:
    • i-say-no-hst-in.bc.ca
    • say-no-to-hst-in.bc.ca
  • Show how much of a sports fan you are:
    • the-canucks-rule-in.vancouver.bc.ca
    • the-maple-leafs-suck-in.toronto.on.ca
  • Steal the prime minister’s identity:
    • stephenh.ottawa.on.ca

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago, but there’s nothing to stop you from getting your provinces and cities confused. In a slap-myself-on-the-forehead moment (I should have used hyphens so it would be easier to read), I registered iamsolostin.toronto.bc.ca. Try it. It works! Think about these possibilities:

  • Heard the one about the Conservatives moving the capital to Alberta?:
    • stephenh.ottawa.ab.ca
  • More along the lines of being dazed and confused:
    • we-are-lost-in.winnipeg.sk.ca
    • where-am-i-now.toronto.bc.ca
    • confused-in.calgary.qc.ca

All of these and more are available (as of this writing) for registration.

Conclusion

Now you know more than most people about the extensive changes CIRA is planning to make to the dot-ca registry effective 12 October 2010. Of course, all of this is subject to the whims and rules of CIRA, so if and when they publish more detailed information you should defer to that.

If you have any questions or concerns, or need to register a new third- or fourth-level domain before it’s too late (or even a second-level dot-ca domain per the update at the top of this page), please contact NinerNet support.

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This is the corporate blog of NinerNet Communications. It's where we post announcements, inform and educate our clients, and discuss issues related to the Internet (web and email) hosting business and all that that entails. This includes such concomitant industries and activities such a domain registration, SSL certificates, online back-up, virtual private servers (VPS), cloud hosting, etc. Please visit our main website for more information about us.

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