Note: The article below, written Nov. 22, alludes to
lawsuits brewing over this issue. On Nov. 28, the first two lawsuits
aimed at stopping the ICANN/Verisign agreement were officially
filed, the first
by the World Association of Domain Name Developers and the second
by the Coalition for ICANN Transparency).
looks like sparks will be flying at the upcoming ICANN
meeting November 30-December 4 in Vancouver, Canada. A
number of individuals, organizations and domain industry companies
are planning to attend to voice their opposition to the ICANN-Verisign
.com agreement announced Oct. 24. The agreement (if signed by
ICANN after their public comment period ends Dec. 4) will end all
pending litigation between ICANN and Verisign, but opponents of the
deal argue that the settlement would come at an unacceptable cost
to both consumers and companies operating in this industry.
It appears almost
certain that while the agreement would end the legal wrangling
between ICANN and Verisign, if implemented it would trigger new
lawsuits against ICANN by third parties that would bear the
financial brunt of the deal with Verisign.
D.C. based Coalition For ICANN Transparency (CFIT) is one
of several groups that have sprung up in an effort to stop ICANN
from finalizing the agreement. On their web site at www.CFIT.info,
the organization estimates the ICANN-Verisign agreement would cost
consumers an extra $1.5 billion over the next 7 years (the
deal allows Versign to raise base .com prices 7% annually).
CFIT also argues that the agreement essentially gives Verisign permanent
control of the .com registry, eliminating competition and
reducing government oversight.
Nearly all of the
opponents are calling for this agreement to be set aside and the
.com contract that is currently in place be allowed to run its
course to November 2007 when it expires. At that time, they
want the .com contract opened up to competing bidders so that
everyone has a fair shot at obtaining this valuable business. They
also argue that such open competition will almost guarantee lower
prices for domain registrants rather than the stiff increases
allowed in the new agreement.
John Berard told us “registrars Tucows and Afilias are
already on record that they would bid $2 and $4 respectively
as the base cost for .com registrations, rather than the $6
Verisign currently charges and the $9 they will eventually be
charging if this agreement is enacted.”
believes ICANN gave Verisign a “sweetheart deal” to escape
litigation, is urging everyone who can to show up in Vancouver to
voice their opposition. This can be done during public portions of
the ICANN board meeting Dec. 3 and 4. Many commercial
interests will be lodging their protests during cross-constituency
sessions that will be held from 1-3pm Nov. 29 (the day before
the meeting officially opens).
If you can’t be
there in person, you can email your comments directly to ICANN at
this address: email@example.com
. You can also visit the ICANN site to see what others have been
saying about the agreement. That thread begins with a comment from George
and as of this writing (Nov. 22) ends with a post from Moniker.com
CEO Monte Cahn here.
Both of those posts hit on the key points that have turned this into
a hot button issue in the domain community.
Another aspect of
the proposed agreement that has drawn fire is a provision that could
allow Verisign to revive their unpopular SiteFinder program
(which allowed them to profit by redirecting invalid address
requests to a web page controlled by VeriSign. The redirection also
interfered with programs that test the validity of domains since an
error was no longer returned for invalid .com or .net. domains.)
Verisign shut that program down in 2003 under threat of sanctions
from ICANN and lawsuits from other affected parties.
With this subject
on the agenda, there is a lot at stake for domain owners in
Vancouver. If you want to weigh in on the subject, don’t delay. Your
window of opportunity closes Dec. 4.
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