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ICANN-VeriSign Deal Sparks Congressional Hearing
By: Terri Wells
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    2006-06-21

    Table of Contents:
  • ICANN-VeriSign Deal Sparks Congressional Hearing
  • The Art of Redirection
  • The Points of Contention
  • What Happens Next?

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    ICANN-VeriSign Deal Sparks Congressional Hearing


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    Why is the proposed settlement between ICANN and VeriSign exciting enough contention to get Congress to take a look? Read on to find out.

    What do you do with a company that consistently says one thing and does something completely different? What do you do when that company insists a particular deal is in your best interests when it clearly isn’t? What do you do when the questionable deal is with an organization that really is supposed to be looking out for your best interests? And finally, what do you do when the deal seems to strike right at your livelihood?

    Well, when the company involved is VeriSign, and the organization involved is the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), you try to make it to the Congressional hearing where discussion ensued of the deal and its accompanying outcry – or if you can’t make it to the hearing, you at least watch the fallout very closely. The hearing, held by the House Small Business Committee, took place on Wednesday, June 8, and at the time of this writing (June 10) neither ICANN nor VeriSign had posted any information about it on their websites. Given the comments from members of Congress that have made it to the press already, anything posted to either website would almost have to be a rebuttal.

    Full information concerning the deal itself can be found here on ICANN’s website. For a discussion of the deal and some of its shortcomings, you can check out another article on Web Hosters. The deal has been described by both ICANN and VeriSign as VeriSign’s “last, best offer to settle the pending litigation” between them. Both of them have also argued that the deal is necessary for the sake of Internet security.

    Others have put their weight behind the deal as well, and not just on Internet security grounds. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection, wrote a letter to the Commerce Department in late May that argued in favor of the deal. In his letter, Stearns said that the proposed settlement “is crucial” to international commerce. He added that “We should insist on an environment that provides ample resources and long-term legal certainty for this vital part of our economy.”

    To be fair, though, VeriSign has a very strong lobbying operation in Washington, D.C., and Stearns is known to have accepted money from VeriSign’s political action committee. So it makes sense to ask, what exactly is going on here? Will the settlement really make the Internet more secure? To understand the answer to this question, it helps to take a look at why a settlement is needed in the first place.

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