This letter highlights the real issues with this agreement -- fair competition and
a transparent process. Let's hope ICANN and DoC address both.
The Honorable Donald Evans
U.S. Department of Commerce
and Constitution Avenues, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Mr. Secretary:
are writing to you concerning the U.S. Commerce Department’s role in reviewing the
recently announced renegotiation of a 1999 contract between VeriSign and the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”).
As you know, the House Subcommittee
on Telecommunications and the Internet recently held an oversight hearing on ICANN’s
process for creating new top-level domains and its role in Internet governance. That
hearing raised questions about ICANN’s domain name selection process and whether
it afforded adequate due process to applicants. We remain committed to ensuring
a competitive and transparent domain name system that promotes the interests of the
U.S. economy and global Internet policy and we are eager to work with the Bush Administration
toward these goals.
We understand that ICANN has chosen to renegotiate its arrangement
with VeriSign. Specifically, if approved by the Department of Commerce and
the ICANN Board, the new agreement would eliminate the 1999 requirement that VeriSign
divest either its retail (registrar) or wholesale (registry) business. Further,
the revised agreement would provide VeriSign with an additional six year term for
the .com registry, with a presumption of renewal, would allow VeriSign to extend
the .net registry term to 2006, and would require VeriSign to relinquish control
of the .org registry in 2002.
Without taking a position on the propriety of the
revised agreement, we want to ensure that any actions by ICANN support and encourage
strong, vibrant competition. Accordingly, we respectfully request that the
Department fully analyze the competitive issues that arise as a result of this agreement.
Further, as Mr. Cerf, Chairman of ICANN, said during our February hearing, ICANN
is a “consensus development body” which requires that major decisions affecting the
future of the Internet be done in an open and transparent manner. Therefore,
we urge you to exercise your oversight authority to ensure that ICANN’s final decision
in this matter is made and implemented in a transparent fashion.
Thank you for
your consideration of this matter. Please keep us apprised of developments
in this area.
“Billy” Tauzin John D. Dingell
Chairman Ranking Member
on Energy and Commerce Committee on Energy and Commerce
Upton Edward J. Markey
Chairman Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Telecommunications
and Subcommittee on Telecommunications and
the Internet the Internet
Vinton G. Cerf, Chairman, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names