I oppose ICANN rescinding the current TLD registry contract with Verisign in favour
of the proposed new contract.
I oppose the proposed changes because I believe
they will not benefit the Internet Community as a whole, as specified in Article
4 of the ICANN Articles of Association. Specifically I believe the proposed changes
overall significantly increase the risk of monopolistic behaviour and reduce competition.
The combination of allowing Verisign to both keep its registrar business and also
gain a presumptive right to *.com would put in place considerable anti competitive
The proposed changes are also essentially ir-reversible. I do not
beleieve there is any consensus in the Internet community for these changes (noting
Registrars, ISPs, Non-commerical and the GA are all opppossed), and in fact on the
contrary there is a considerable consensus against the proposed changes being rushed
through in such a short time-frame.
If the ICANN Board was to agree to such dramatic
changes without the consensus of the DNSO and constituencies there would be great
damage done not just to competition within the DNS but more fundamentally to ICANN
itself. The principle of consensus based decision making which so many hold dear
would be shattered possibly ir-redeemably.
Specific concerns I have regarding
the proposed contract are:
- The granting of a presumptive right to be the *.com
registry to Verisign. By lowering the necessary performance standard to retain *.com
*which makes up 65% of all domain names in the world), this removes a huge pressure
on the registry to keep prices as low as possible and to have the best possible relationship
- Allowing Verisign to retain its registrar business puts in
place perverse anti-competitive incentives regardless of organisational firewalls.
- Verisign would be in a position where it could purchase other Registrars thus
once again gaining over 50% or even 75% of the registrar market in *.com, as well
as the registry.
- The possibility of a change to the status of *.org registration
- Granting the ability to Verisign to increase registry prices with only 30 days
- The ambiguity over what the $200 million to be invested in registry
development would actually be, and the lack of any clear process to audit this.
The non-transparent process used to negotiate these agreements which are then presented
as not negotiable to the ICANN Board and DNSO
- The detrimental effects on registrars
who have become registrars and invested money on the basis of the existing contract
(which mandates the Verisign registry must divest the registrar business)
unfair advantage the Verisign Registrar would gain by being able to sell domains
with a zero wholesale cost, thus potentially forcing out many smaller competitors
- The total lack of outside (external to ICANN) analysis on whether the proposed
changes will be beneficial to the Internet community
I recognise that parts of
the proposed new contracts would bring benefits to the Internet community. However
I believe that these benefits are minor compared to the irreversible and major drawbacks
of the contracts, thus I urge ICANN to remain with the existing contract.