China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), issued new domain name registration rules on 29 May 2012 (the "2012 Rules"), and recently changed its practice regarding the local presence requirement resulting in .cn domain names being able to be registered directly by foreign companies which do not have a local presence without the need for a third party Chinese trustee. There are also changes in the pipeline to implement separate registration systems for Chinese character .cn domain names and the equivalent Chinese character domain name extensions.
Registration of .cn Domain Names by Individuals and Foreign Companies
CNNIC has recently relaxed its local presence requirements and as a result, individuals as well as foreign companies from 66 designated jurisdictions can now register .cn domain names in their own name using CNNIC approved overseas registrars. Registrants will still need to provide supporting information such as proof of identity/company registration and a signed letter of commitment.
Increased Protection of Registrant Information
The 2012 Rules impose a higher level of responsibility on CNNIC and registrars to ensure the protection of information provided by .cn domain name registrants. The new requirements include obligations to: (a) obtain consent from registrants before collecting any personal information; (b) keep registrant data in a secure manner and use such data exclusively for the purposes of domain name registration, auditing and complaint; (c) notify registrants in the domain name registration agreement how and what data will be used, the risks of the data being leaked, as well as the measures adopted to protect the collected data; (d) establish departments and administrators responsible for information security as well as internal regulations; (e) delete any registrant information that they hold, in the case of disqualified registrars, within 10 days from their disqualification; and (vi) compensate registrants in accordance with the registration agreement for leakage of registrant information where such leakage can be attributed to the fault of the registrar.
CNNIC has a supervisory role and is responsible for monitoring the efforts of registrars to protect data privacy.
Cancellation of Expired Domain Names
The 2012 Rules reduce the timeframe within which registrars may cancel domain names which have not been renewed. Previously, registrars could only cancel a domain name 45 days after its expiry date if they did not receive notice of the registrant's wish to renew. Under the 2012 Rules, this period has been shortened to 30 days.
CNNIC to Implement Separate Registrations for .cn and . 中国 Domain Extensions
From 29 October 2012, stand-alone registration services will be implemented for Chinese language .cn and .中国domain names. Previously a Chinese language .cn registration would have automatically entitled the registrant to the corresponding domain name in both the traditional and simplified Chinese language equivalents (i.e. .中國and .中国, respectively).
Once these changes have been implemented later in the year, registrants will need to file two separate applications to register such domain names (one for the .cn domain name extension and one for the Chinese language equivalents of the .cn extension (i.e. .中國and .中国) and incur two sets of registration fees.
These changes will result in higher fees for domain names registered after the changes are introduced. Domain names registered prior to 29 October 2012 will also be subject to separate renewal fees. Companies with existing Chinese character .cn domain names (and Chinese language equivalents of the .cn extension) may wish to top up their registrations to the maximum period allowed prior to the changes being implemented, in order to minimize their renewal fees.
For a full version of the 2012 Rules see: http://www1.cnnic.cn/html/Dir/2012/05/28/6043.htm