Critics Blast ICANN Proposed Registry Agreements - The Worst Part and Other Issues
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But that may be exactly what VeriSign wants to hear. Chuck Gomes of VeriSign wrote a comment in support of the agreement. He says in part that ďEnsuring the continued security and stability of its infrastructure is critical to the continued growth of the Internet. That is why VeriSign supports the proposed new registry agreement for .biz. The agreement closely mirrors the model registry agreements that ICANN has already used or proposed for .com, .info, .mobi, .net, and .org.Ē
If the .biz, .info and .org agreements are approved, they will create a precedent which VeriSign can use as ammunition when it comes time to renegotiate its own agreement. Think back over VeriSignís history of milking domain names for as much profit as they can (does Site Finder ring any bells?). Can you imagine what VeriSign would start charging if the price caps on the .com domain were eliminated? I can hear the companyís accountants rubbing their hands together from here. Combine that with the presumptive renewal clause and domain name owners are well and truly stuck.
Iíve devoted so much space to this one provision because it leaps out at you, but many of the others arenít exactly helpful to the Internet as a whole either. For example, thereís a provision about halfway through the 25-page contract that talks about traffic data. It states in part that "Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude Registry Operator from making commercial use of, or collecting, traffic data regarding domain names or non-existent domain names for purposes such as, without limitation, the determination of the availability and health of the Internet, pinpointing specific points of failure, characterizing attacks and misconfigurations, identifying compromised networks and hosts and promoting the sale of domain names, provided however, that such use does not disclose domain name registrant or end-user information or other Personal Data..."
What do you get when you combine the ability to make use of commercial traffic data with the ability to charge variable pricing? Well, how about a registry that can look at the popularity of a domain that hasnít even been sold yet based on the traffic data and then charge accordingly? Thatís called domain tasting, and it leaves a lot of domain name holders with a bitter taste in their mouths. When you consider that this provision, as it is worded, lets registries do this for domain names that are already registered, itís enough to make you feel like youíre on borrowed time.
ICANN is holding a board meeting on September 13, at which it is supposed to discuss the comments it has received about the proposed agreements. It remains to be seen whether it will do the right thing. Given its past history, however, Iím not holding my breath.
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