Domain Name Association Unveils Healthy Domain Practices

The Healthy Domains initiative establishes voluntary practices aimed at safeguarding the evolution of the domain name system and defines self-regulation measures.

February 12, 2017

3 Min Read


WAKEFIELD, Mass. — The Domain Name Association (The DNA), the Internet domain industry’s trade association, announced today the publication of four voluntary practice areas for domain registries and registrars that aim to help the domain name system remain healthy as it grows and evolves.

The practices are grouped into four areas that address online security abuse, child abuse mitigation systems, complaint handling from illegal online pharmacies and copyright infringement.  Development of the four healthy practice areas is the result of a yearlong effort by The DNA's Healthy Domains Initiative (HDI), an industry-led program that encourages sound stewardship of the Internet namespace, and is the result of a year’s worth of consultations with registries, registrars, law enforcement, civil society, child protection authorities, pharmaceutical experts, content providers and others.

"DNA members are very active in industry governance and are dedicated to overseeing a domain name system that is healthy for all concerned,” said Richard Merdinger, chairman of The DNA and vice president of Domains at GoDaddy.  “The Healthy Domains Initiative is a strong signal that these companies intend to be proactive about shepherding the namespace in a safe way as it continues to expand."

The DNA's Four Healthy Practice Areas for Domain Registries and Registrars

According to the DNA, the practices are focused on:

  • Addressing online security abuse (e.g., malware, phishing, pharming) — this area encompasses 20 voluntary practices for registrars and registries to employ as means for combating domain name system (DNS) abuse.  Recommendations include measures to mitigate abuse, receive and handle abuse reports, and otherwise minimize risks associated with potentially compromised domains.

  • Enhancing child abuse mitigation systems — the DNA proposes that registries and registrars put in place a formalized system for handling of abusive child imagery, and establish “trusted notifier” relationships with child protection authorities.

  • Streamlining complaint handling from illegal or “rogue” online pharmacies — these measures are designed to enhance registry and registrar capability to field, evaluate and handle complaints regarding online outlets suspected of being unlicensed pharmacies or otherwise distributing harmful or counterfeit medication.

  • Establishing a voluntary third party system for handling copyright infringement — The DNA supports the creation of a voluntary third party mechanism, similar to the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, for handling trademark violations, which would address illegal infringement of copyrighted material through the use of domain names.  The system would be available for voluntary participation by registries and registrars who would like to work with content owners to combat illegal activity on a more efficient and cost-effective basis, but still adhering to key tenets of due process.

"The Healthy Domains Initiative is a collaborative effort that has involved innovative thinking and mindfulness of our guardianship role in the domain name system," said Mason Cole, who chairs the HDI committee and is a vice president at Donuts Inc., a domain registry. "We developed practices that we, as operators, know will confer benefits to our customers and to Internet users, and to the overall strength of the domain name system."

The DNA’s Board of Directors ratified the four healthy practices in late December.  Cole said additional practices may be added as The DNA oversees the program.

About The DNA

The Domain Name Association (The DNA) is a non-profit business association that represents the interests of the domain name industry.  It is independent and global in scope, and its membership is open to organizations involved in the provision, support, and sale of domain names, such as domain name registries, registrars, resellers, and registry service providers.

Founding members include ARI Registry Services, Donuts, GoDaddy, Google, and Rightside, with current membership representing more than 47 established companies. The DNA’s mission is to promote the best interests of the domain name industry by advocating the use, adoption, and expansion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the Internet. More information is available at

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