ICANN, VeriSign .com Agreement Wins DoC Approval
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The U.S. Department of Commerce finally signed off on the agreement between ICANN and VeriSign over control of the .com top level domain. Despite some extra provisions that were put into the agreement to allay critics’ concerns, some are still not comfortable with what was negotiated. Keep reading to find out why.
I covered an agreement concerning top level domains in another article recently. That article covered registry agreements between ICANN and the registries handling .biz, .info, and .org. Those agreements drew harsh criticism for a number of reasons; I won’t rehash all of them here. Right now I’d like to draw your attention to someone who spoke approvingly of those agreements.
Chuck Gomes of VeriSign supported the agreements. He stated his belief that “Ensuring 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, .mobi, .net, and .org.”
In the earlier article, I complained that VeriSign would then use the .biz, .info, and .org agreements as precedents to support some of the more controversial terms for its own agreement with ICANN over the .com top level domain. That deal was originally handed over to the U.S. Department of Commerce in March 2006 after negotiation between the two companies. This .com contract successfully ended the litigation between ICANN and VeriSign, but it did not satisfy many critics.
Perhaps the Department of Commerce was aware of this when it received the contract. Or perhaps it felt the weight of the contract's importance. There are 59 million domain names registered that use the .com suffix. Not all of these are businesses, of course, and some single businesses have multiple domain names – Web Hosters, for example, is part of a family of web sites with different top level domains which include Dev Shed, ASP Free, Dev Articles, Dev Hardware, and SEO Chat. But that contract still directly or indirectly affects the livelihoods of an awful lot of people, which may help explain why it wasn’t approved until now.
The Department of Commerce delayed approving the contract because it was taking due care. The contract was reviewed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a part of the Department of Commerce. The NTIA examined comments from third parties, including those who were critical of the agreement. The NTIA also sought advice from the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, which makes perfect sense in light of some of the complaints received about the deal.
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