ICANN, VeriSign .com Agreement Wins DoC Approval - A Little More Oversight?
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The NTIA must have seen something in the contract that worried them. Congress itself held hearings associated with ICANN and the .com registry agreement in late September. One was held by the Senate Commerce Committee on September 20, and another was held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on September 21. So it’s fair to say that a lot of eyes examined the contract.
If you want to look at it yourself, point your browser to this pdf of the contract. If you really want to understand it, I suggest you have a lawyer and a bottle of aspirin beside you, as well as a Lawyerese-English dictionary. You’d also better have some time, since the document is 95 pages long.
One interesting point is that the NTIA and the DoC felt obligated to add an amendment “to address the competition and Internet security and stability issues identified during the review process,” according to the NTIA’s press release. There is a fact sheet available that covers the salient points of the new amendment, Amendment 30.
As you may have heard, the new contract lasts for six years, which many critics found an unconscionable length of time. During those six years, VeriSign can raise its price four times, up to seven percent each time. With the addition of Amendment 30, VeriSign must get written approval from the Department of Commerce “before any amendments can be made to the pricing provisions of the agreement or execution of a renewal or substitution of a future .com Registry Agreement.” The DoC will only agree if it believes the change will serve the public interest in the security and stability of the Internet – and “the provision of registry services is offered at reasonable price, terms and conditions.”
And if the Department doesn’t approve a renewal or substitution? VeriSign is still bound by the terms of the original Cooperative Agreement, “which include the ability of the Department to open a competitive process for the management of the .com registry.” One can at least imagine that that’s a warning to VeriSign not to get restless with its current agreement, or it faces the competition it has been fairly shielded from for so long.
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