The web site for troubled domain registrar RegisterFly went offline early Tuesday and remains unavailable. The downtime follows weeks of problems with the registerfly.com site, with domain name owners saying they have been unable to manage or transfer their domains. Amid growing concern about the status of domains at RegisterFly, ICANN has asked a California court to force RegisterFly to turn over its database of domain data and compel an emergency audit of its books and records.
ICANN has also reached out to central domain registries to protect domain owners. "Last Friday, ICANN convened a telephone conference among those needed to implement a plan that will help cease unintended deletions," ICANN said on its blog. "This will prevent names from being deleted from the registry and becoming available for re-registration by others."
A dynamically updating chart of RegisterFly's web site performance is available. Netcraft offers a web site performance monitoring service that provides similar charts, along with e-mail alerts when an outage occurs.
RegisterFly's operations descended into chaos last week amid allegations that the former president and CEO misused company funds. As the company's principals battle one another, thousands of domain names have been caught in the crossfire. RegisterFly says that at least 75,000 customer domains expired as a direct result of the company's financial and management problems. A lawsuit filed by RegisterFly's parent company, Unified Names, blames the meltdown on misuse of company funds by President and CEO Kevin Medina, who was fired by the company's board.
ICANN has taken heat from RegisterFly customers, who say the group should have acted sooner. "ICANN is not a regulator," the unsigned blog post stated. "We rely mainly on contract law. We do not condone in any way whatsoever RegisterFly’s business practice and behaviour." While it has taken steps to prevent domain deletions, ICANN offered little solace to domain owners hoping to transfer their names to another registrar: "The options for customers to transfer their names to another registrar at this stage are limited. We will advise if we have more information on this point."