[alac] Posting: VeriSign Settlement documents
I went back last night to our Statement from Vancouver about the Verisign settlement:
to determine whether our criticisms and suggestions were addressed in the modified agreement.
First, we recommended unbundling the settlement of the litigation from the renewal of .COM. ICANN did not address this concern.
Second, we criticized the lack of accountability for both ICANN and Verisign by virture of (a) lack of oversight mechanisms in the new agreements and (b) dependency on Verisign funding for a significant percentage of ICANN's revenue. The new agreement goes some way toward addressing these by adding performance metrics to the registry agreement and reducing the percentage of ICANN's funding from Verisign. I don't think the Agreement goes far enough in addressing (a), but the changes made in (b) are largely positive.
Third, we criticized Verisign's ability to raise prices 7% a year without any checks on its monopoly power to do so. The response was to permit Verisign to raise its prices up to 7% a year in four of six years for any reason. In the other two years, it can raise prices if it can demonstrate that its costs of providing secure and stable services are rising. Personally, I think these changes don't really respond to our criticism. Verisign's pricing is still not subject to market forces-- since it does not face competitive renewal -- and the new price caps still allow price increases in spite of the fact that the cost of delivering the services is decreasing. My feeling is that ICANN did not address this concern.
Fourth, we criticized the way the new agreements allowed Verisign to handle TLD server data. The new agreement places restrictions on Verisign's ability to collect personally identifying information and also requires Verisign to make the data available to all persons on an equal basis if it decides to sell the data. In my view, this addresses the concerns we raised, though I want to spend more time with the language to understand how it still might be "gamed" by lawyers. ;-)