OVH, The First Registrar to Offer the New gTLDs in Compliance with EU Data Retention Law

OVH is the first registrar to market the new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) without contravening the EU legislation governing data retention. On March 12th 2014, ICANN published its decision¹ to accept the request submitted by OVH for a waiver of the articles of the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) that define the applicable retention period for certain data. These articles did not comply with EU legislation and had become an issue for OVH (read our article of January 1st 2014).

Romain Beeckman, responsable juridique d’OVH.

With this decision, OVH is paving the way for other European registrars. Since the waiver has been granted, other registrars have joined the movement and have presented the case of OVH before ICANN as a precedent. This first waiver had been awaited by other players in the industry, who welcomed the decision and congratulated OVH. “We took some risks by taking a step forward," explains Romain Beeckman, Chief Legal Officer at OVH.

"We faced a number of obstacles and we lost a lot of time in getting our claim accepted. We really had lot of teething problems. We started proceedings back in October 2013 and we had to wait six months, with no feedback on the status of the case or on when a decision might be made. When ICANN announced the global release of the new extensions in January, while all our competitors were ready to offer them to their customers, we were in limbo, with no contracts. Even our generic domain name, “.ovh” could be challenged. We could have dropped the case. We could have chosen to sign the contracts in January but personal data is a critical issue and a legitimate concern for us. OVH is fully committed to issues regarding privacy, a matter that the European Court of Justice has reinforced by invalidating the directive on personal data.² Seeing other actors following in our footsteps is reassuring and it has led us to legitimately think about all those providers who have signed contracts without even considering these issues.”

OVH is now offering the new gTLDs with peace of mind, being able to guarantee customers that their data will be protected. More than 40 domain name extensions are now available at the best prices on the market: “.email”, “.guru”, “.voyage” and “.solutions”, starting at £10.99. What's more, OVH will be updating its offer every 10 to 15 days, to provide new opportunities to internet users. As for the eagerly awaited “.ovh”, the Roubaix-based registrar is promising a big surprise.

Beyond the new extensions, the outcome of this process is a clear indication of the current debate on the need for this American corporation to have supranational authority. “This is the first time in history that the ICANN has modified its agreements and taken European legislation into consideration", adds Romain Beeckman. Fadi Chehadé, President of ICANN, commented on this during his visit in Paris in February: “We must recognise the role that the USA has played in developing the internet. However, we must now move forward without disrupting the stability of the internet. I think the United States will transfer its role as internet authority to the global community, and ICANN needs to evolve from a Californian corporation to an international corporation, perhaps based in Geneva.”³ This position was confirmed during the ICANN49 event in Singapore.