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WEB HOSTING NEWS

The Latest ICANN-VeriSign Agreement: Too Little, Too Late?
By: Terri Wells
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    2006-02-08

    Table of Contents:
  • The Latest ICANN-VeriSign Agreement: Too Little, Too Late?
  • Revisions to the Agreement
  • Not Enough Concessions
  • Responses to the Revised Agreement

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    The Latest ICANN-VeriSign Agreement: Too Little, Too Late? - Revisions to the Agreement


    (Page 2 of 4 )

    Not all of the changes are generating heat – and at least some of the points that didn’t change have raised the ire of a lot of people. I’ll cover some of the most important changes here.

    Registrars will welcome some of the revisions. For example, one revision removes a transaction fee that would have been charged to all companies selling a .com domain. The fee was originally intended to go to ICANN to support some of its activities. Instead, VeriSign will directly pay ICANN a fixed registry level fee. This fee will not be passed on directly to registrars.

    In the original proposed agreement, VeriSign was entitled to raise its prices by up to seven percent a year. Many people commenting on that proposal thought it was inappropriate, too high, and should be tied to increases in costs. The revised agreement includes some limits on VeriSign’s ability to raise its prices. Specifically, the registry can raise its prices only four years out of the six-year term of the agreement. If VeriSign wants to make additional price increases, they would have to be based on costs incurred “due to the imposition of any new Consensus Policy or documented extraordinary expense resulting from an attack or threat of attack on the Security or Stability of the DNS.”

    Another issue many users complained about had to do with the use of personal data. Specifically, in the originally proposed agreement, the language did not seem to prevent VeriSign from using personally identifiable data. Indeed, it could be argued that the language permitted VeriSign to create SiteFinder-like services (I’ll refresh your memory of the SiteFinder brouhaha in the next section). The new provision covering the use of “Traffic Data” includes safeguards relating to personal data, non-discriminatory access, and language that should make it clear that it does not provide consent for any SiteFinder-like service.

    Certain points of the revised agreement were added to address things that were included in an earlier agreement, but not in the one posted in October. For instance, many complained that VeriSign was no longer obligated to invest $200 million in development and infrastructure. This was replaced by the obligation for VeriSign to meet with ICANN’s executive staff and chairman twice a year to discuss trends “impacting the Security and/or Stability of the Registry, the DNS or the Internet pursuant to the terms of confidentiality agreements executed both by the executive staff of ICANN and the Chairman of the Board.” Similarly, the obligation to develop a centralized Whois service, left out of the agreement posted in October, was added to the new one, “if mandated by ICANN insofar as reasonably feasible, particularly in view of Registry Operator’s dependence on cooperation of third parties.”

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