ICANN, VeriSign .com Agreement Wins DoC Approval - Criticisms Remain
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Most critics are very unhappy about the fact that VeriSign now controls the .com registry through 2012. By that time, the company will have held control of the .com registry for 13 years. And it will have made quite a bit of money from that position. Do the math. With 59 million domain names, paid for at $6 per domain name per year, VeriSign gets $350 million every year. And that doesn't even count how much the Internet is likely to grow in that time, with the number of .com domain names keeping pace.
Aside from the issue of monopoly power, critics have complained that the contract no longer requires VeriSign to invest in the domain name system’s infrastructure. VeriSign has responded to this criticism by saying that it was continuing to invest a great deal of money – tens of millions of dollars – in the infrastructure. The registry says it is doing this despite the fact that there are no longer any minimum investment amounts specified in the contract.
Critics have also complained that the contract offers VeriSign first dibs on renewing it in the future. A lot of people aren’t happy with VeriSign, and many others aren’t happy with ICANN, either, citing a history of security lapses and anti-trust issues, as well as other problems. And some of these criticisms come from interesting sources.
Take Network Solutions for instance. The registrar’s vice president of policy Jon Nevett said that his company was “disappointed that in the face of widespread opposition, the Commerce Department approved an agreement between ICANN and VeriSign, renewing VeriSign’s contract to operate the .com registry. Unfortunately, the Commerce Department has endorsed an agreement that creates a perpetual de facto monopoly, fails to provide sufficient checks and balances through competition and adequate oversight, and is fundamentally flawed from a national cyber-security perspective.”
Those are strong words. For the sake of the future of the web, we can hope there’s more rhetoric than substance behind them. Personally, I would like to see a lot less politics, and a lot more transparency and competition in the process.
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