ICANN/Verisign Settlement is a Raw Deal
This is a formal letter expressing opposition to the settlement agreement between ICANN and Verisign.
Among ICANN’s primary purposes is to “promote competition.” Rewarding Verisign with an indefinite contract extension without requiring a bidding process is a slap in the face of competition. It is imperative to require Verisign to re-bid for its role as .COM registry when their current contract expires. Instead. this unfair settlement forces unilateral price hikes upon registrants and creates a monopoly-like situation.
ICANN’s first self-stated mission says “ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet.” The settlement agreement with Verisign violates the spirit of ICANN’s mission by rewarding a company that has already shown public disregard for the operational stability of the Internet with their renegade Sitefinder service in 2003. ICANN’s own report on Sitefinder stated that Verisign “violated well-established codes of conduct and good practice intended to ensure stability,” and that “users’ decisions and control were preempted and users were potentially subjected to violations of their privacy.” (ICANN SSAC Report, 9 Jul 04)
Despite stability concerns and countless complaints, including an initial request from ICANN that was rejected, it was not until preparations were being made to forcefully stop Verisign that they “temporarily” suspend the Sitefinder service. This lesson should not be forgotten so soon! It is disturbing that this settlement may pave the way for the return of Sitefinder and make other equally detrimental services more likely.
It is incorrect to view opposition to the settlement simply as a fuss over paying 7% more every year for registrations. This issue is not about rising registration costs. It is reasonable to say that ICANN's registry-level fee should be increased so it can more efficiently operate. It is not reasonable to condone unjustified price hikes. If this price increase is not based on registry costs or inflation, it is inexcusable to raise fees just so registrants can “pay off” Verisign.
The burden of this settlement falls squarely on the backs of all domain name registrants. We should not be forced to pay more to increase Verisign’s bottom line in order to put a stop to their corporate bullying, and Verisign must not be rewarded for this calculated attempt at extortion. While a settlement between ICANN and Verisign is encouraged, one that is not for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole must be rejected. We urge ICANN to listen to all domain name owners, who overwhelmingly disapprove of this settlement.
Ron James Director & Active Member The Domain Name Owners Association (www.dnoa.org <http://www.dnoa.org>)