CIRA’s on a witch hunt, and the first casualties are the wave of multiple suspended .ca domains dropping off the internet this weekend.
From the inception of the .ca TLD in 1993 to the transfer of control to CIRA in 2000, the .ca registry was run by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Owning a .ca has always meant adhering to strict Canadian presence requirements, but the rules have relaxed over time. During UBC administration an individual or company was required to maintain a physical presence in the country. Subdomain use was liberal and an individual had little chance of registering a higher-level domain than http://name.city.province.ca/.
When the Canadian Internet Registration Authority took over the regional segregation was dropped, although physical presence requirements remained. But it has become apparent non-Canadian residents were able to skirt around this stipulation, and CIRA started pulling the plug on their sites this weekend.
Californian Greg Storey was contacted on May 25th about his domain, Airbag.ca. CIRA wished to verify his registrant information, and threatened suspension if he didn’t comply within 5 business days. Further, they informed him they would be blocking any access to his domain during the verification process:
Please note that during the RIV process, CIRA is restricting your Registrant profile and all domains associated with it, this includes Registrar transfers, Registrant transfers and administrative contact changes etc. Unless the Registrant is unable to respond satisfactorily to CIRA’s RIV request, the restrictions will be removed upon completion of the RIV process.
Because Storey wasn’t able to meet the Canadian presence requirement, CIRA followed up with notice of suspension on June 11th, and by June 12th airbag.ca had disappeared from the web. And he’s not alone; notable typography site Typographi.ca has gone dark, and the list of suspended domains is growing daily.
While it was obvious all along that non-Canadians shouldn’t own .ca domains, CIRA’s handling leaves a lot to be desired. A domain switch is not an easy process; bookmarks break, traffic falls, and server configuration takes time. Instead of wantonly closing down sites that slipped through the cracks, they could have instead extended a grace period to the registrants and allowed time for a proper domain transfer. CIRA allowed these registrations to happen; silencing resources that others have come to enjoy and rely on isn’t the proper way to handle the situation.
Note — Airbag has since moved to airbagindustries.com, so update your bookmarks. Feel free to use comments on this article as a lost and found to hook up missing .ca domains with their new address.