ICANN-VeriSign Deal Sparks Congressional Hearing - The Points of Contention
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Coming back to the proposed settlement, there are two points that are sparking the most debate. The first of these awards VeriSign the right to raise fees on .com domains in four of the next six years by seven percent each time. The second one concerns VeriSign’s “presumptive renewal” right. Critics have described this aspect of the deal as “the granting of a perpetual monopoly [to VeriSign].”
ICANN General Counsel John Jeffrey has said that the rise in .com fees between now and 2012 would amount to less than two dollars per name, or as one observer characterized it, the cost of a single latte. But you need to consider the total number of .com domains to understand the real potential impact of the proposed settlement. W.G. Mitchell, CEO of Network Solutions, estimated that we would be looking at $1.3 billion in new revenue for VeriSign between now and the expiration of the deal. More than half of this would be spread out among the 10.5 million small online businesses that have contributed so much to the growth of the global economy.
Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY) was not swayed by ICANN’s and VeriSign’s arguments. Speaking at the Congressional hearing, she said that “When you’re talking about increased prices and you’re allowed to do that at VeriSign, I don’t know [that] that’s going to produce any better safety or security from anyone who’s paying that additional cost. And I haven’t heard anything today that tells me that would be the case.”
As to the right of renewal, that could actually make the Internet somewhat less secure in a way. “Most of the world is allied against us and waiting for one credible cause to try and strip us of our influence,” Mitchell maintains, and “The granting of a perpetual monopoly against the protests of almost the entire Internet world community, including many of us here, will be that cause.” Governments in other countries will be eager to step in and regulate, as they have already shown, and that could lead to a dangerous stifling of the Internet’s growth and development.
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