This letter was sent to Commerce Secretary Don Evans
On behalf of the one million
members and supporters of Citizens Against Government Waste, I am writing to express
my support for the cooperative agreement recently reached between the Internet Corporation
for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and VeriSign, Inc.
Prior to October 1999,
Network Solutions (now owned by VeriSign, Inc.) was the only government-sanctioned
domain name registrar for the .com, .net and .org top-level domain names (TLDs).
Through a negotiated agreement between ICANN, the Department of Commerce and Network
Solutions, new competitors were allowed to enter the domain name marketplace.
This original agreement also required Network Solutions to separate legal ownership
of its registry services business from its registrar business.
In the two years
since its enactment, this agreement has been successful in creating a robust, competitive
domain name marketplace. Currently, ICANN has accredited nearly 180 new registrars,
90 of whom are operational. VeriSign now registers 40 percent of all new registrations
of .com, .org and .net.
This explosion in the number of choices available to consumers
and businesses has lead to a significant decrease in the price for registration.
For example, the average cost to obtain a domain name has fallen from approximately
$70 for two years to less than $15 per year.
Given the current realities in the
domain name registrar market, CAGW believes there is no need for VeriSign to separate
the registry and registrar businesses. Itís obvious that competition is working.
Furthermore, this updated agreement ensures the continued long-term stability of
the Internet and the domain name system. I understand that VeriSign has pledged
a substantial infrastructure investment of $200 million over a ten-year period to
increase the efficiency of the .com, .net and .org registries and to enable all ICANN-accredited
registrars to access these registries.
Perhaps most importantly, the updated agreement
corrects a disturbing double standard imposed by ICANN. Although the 1999 agreement
prohibits VeriSign from operating both as a registry and a registrar, in its selection
of new TLDs, ICANN has allowed other companies to do just that. This discriminatory
carve out is unfair and runs counter to the very reason why the 1999 agreement was
created: to establish a level playing field between all registrars and registries.
urge the Department of Commerce to act now to further advance competition in the
domain name marketplace and to ensure the continued stability of the Internet by
approving this agreement. Thank you for your time and consideration. Should
you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (202) 467-5300.