A recent change by ICANN on the domain transfer rules is to take effect on Friday, November 12th. The new rules provide that domain name transfers would be automatically approved in five days unless they are explicitly denied by the account holder, as opposed as current procedures where no response meant denial of transfer.
“Failure by the Registrar of Record to respond within five (5) calendar days to a notification from the Registry regarding a transfer request will result in a default ‘approval’ of the transfer,” the new rules state. “In the event that a Transfer Contact listed in the Whois has not confirmed their request to transfer with the Registrar of Record and the Registrar of Record has not explicitly denied the transfer request, the default action will be that the Registrar of Record must allow the transfer to proceed.”
Because many domain owners do not keep accurate or outdated information in their WHOIS records, it is possible that a change of transfer request would come in, be sent to a non-existing or non-checked address, and after 5 days of inactivity be approved. I personally received a message from my registrar warning me that they would automatically approve the domain transfer request within 5 days if I don’t respond or if I don’t lock my domains against transfer.
Many other domain name registrars are scrambling to notify their users or put in place policies that would limit the possibility of a domain hijack. Some registrars, such as Network Solutions are automatically locking the domains on behalf of its users. In the meantime, ICANN, in anticipation of increased number of domain name disputes has announced appointments to manage its domain name dispute policy.
Practical note: if you want to check whether your domain is locked - do the following. Use a WHOIS lookup tool (WHOIS.sc, ZoneEdit) and do a check on your domain name.