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Tricks of the trade – the actors involved in setting up a custom TLD: the data escrow provider

Home > Observatory and resources > Expert papers > Tricks of the trade – the actors involved in setting up a custom TLD: the data escrow provider

A custom TLD is set up with a certain number of specific actors, whose complementary roles ensure the smooth operation of the TLD. The roles of the TLD Registry and of the back-end registry operator have already been covered in previous articles. The purpose of this note is to look at the very specific role of the data escrow provider, an essential actor in any planned TLD.

A third party ensuring the safekeeping of the registry data

Data escrow is an important aspect in the life of a TLD, which contributes to its smooth operation and its protection.

In the contract that it signs with the registry (the Registry Agreement), ICANN requires each registry operator to back up its data every day. This back-up cannot be done with the registry operator itself, but must be done with a trusted third party known as the data escrow provider. The purpose of this contractual obligation is to make sure that the registry data are always accessible, and in particular that in the event of failure of the back-end registry operator, the TLD can be taken over by an emergency operator, which is provided for in the Registry Agreement. The data escrow provider is thus an intermediary between ICANN and the back-end registry operator, who backs up the data of the zone and verifies their conformity with ICANN standards.

Specifically, the back-end registry operator sends a copy of the TLD’s data every day to the data escrow provider with which the registry has contracted. It contains all the information associated with the domain names registered, their contacts and their various parameters.

The data escrow provider is obliged to keep the data for at least a year.

Choosing a data escrow provider

ICANN has a list of validated data escrow providers. Each registry operator can choose the data escrow provider it wishes from this list. However, we recommend choosing a European data escrow provider. This ensures full compliance with the regulations in force in the registry zone, in particular on the processing of personal data. Afnic works with two European data escrow providers: Denic Escrow Service and NCC.

ICANN provides a specimen contract that the registry can use to sign a contract with a data escrow provider. A copy of this signed contract must be sent to ICANN. The contract is fairly standard, but minor amendments can be made to it, as long as ICANN is informed.

For a brand, a data escrow provider’s charges vary between €2,500 and €5,000 a year. It depends basically on the volume of data to be backed up, and therefore on the number of domain names in the registry.

Lastly, be aware that it is entirely possible to change data escrow provider at any time. ICANN has put in place a dedicated procedure, which we have successfully followed for some of our clients.