The Latest ICANN-VeriSign Agreement: Too Little, Too Late?
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VeriSign and ICANN have posted a proposed agreement to settle their legal differences and renew VeriSign's contract as a registry. The last proposed agreeement raised quite an uproar, including an attempted temporary restraining order. Is this revised agreement a real improvement, or just window dressing? If you're a web host and a registrar, you owe it to your business to find out.
In late October 2005, the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) posted a proposed set of agreements between itself and VeriSign, aimed at settling all pending litigation between the two parties. At the time, a VeriSign senior vice president said that ďVeriSignís objective was to gain clarity and business certainty for Internet operators.Ē
To judge from the comments that the set of agreements drew forth from various observers and interested parties, VeriSignís true objective was to gain clarity and business control for itself. Indeed, in late November 2005, a new organization called Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) filed a lawsuit against VeriSign and ICANN in order to stop implementation of the agreement. CFIT specifically sought a temporary restraining order, which was denied.
Apparently it did encourage ICANN and VeriSign to go back to the drawing board, however. VeriSign has stated that this latest proposal is its last, best offer to settle the pending litigation. Giving credit to ICANN, all of the relevant documents are available on its website (http://www.icann.org), including the old agreement, the revised agreement (in both redlined and clean versions), and comments. You can even make comments to the new agreement; ICANN is accepting those through noon UTC on February 20, 2006.
The new agreement has already received at least five comments as of this writing, despite being online for two or three days at most. To say the commentators are not thrilled about the new agreement would be the understatement of the year. And they arenít alone. To judge from observers who are not directly affiliated with ICANN and VeriSign, at best, the revised proposals do not go far enough to address the complaints that were made about the original agreement posted in October. At worst, they could destroy an emerging field and put a number of companies out of business.
Before going into the problems raised by the agreement, Iím going to take a look at what the actual changes are. Then Iíll go into the issues raised by others about the agreement. If you have a stake in the future of the Internet Ė and most web hosts do, especially those who register domain names Ė you might want to pay attention, just to make sure that future isnít decided without your input.
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