Everyone hates Verisign’s new .net deal

The public has commented: Verisign’s .net registry contract should not be renewed in its currently proposed form.

ICANN’s public comment period for the renewal closed yesterday and attracted 57 submissions, most of which either complained about Verisign being allowed to raise its prices or expressed fears about domains being seized by governments.

The proposed contract retains the current pricing structure, in which Verisign is allowed to raise the price of a .net domain by 10% a year. They currently cost $9.92, meaning they could reach $17.57 by the time the contract ends.

The Internet Commerce Association, some of its supporters, Namecheap, the Registrars Stakeholder Group, the Cross-Community Working Party on ICANN and Human Rights (CCWP-HR), and TurnCommerce all oppose the price increases.

The RrSG said the price provisions “are without sufficient justification or an analysis of its potentially substantial impact on the DNS”.

These commenters and others who did not directly oppose the increases, including the At-Large Advisory Committee and consultant Michael Palage, called for ICANN to conduct an economic analysis of the domain name market.

The Business Constituency was the only commenter to openly support the increases, though its comment noted that it is opposed in principle to ICANN capping prices at all.

The Intellectual Property Constituency did not express a view on pricing, but called for greater transparency into the side-deal that sees ICANN get an extra $4 million a year for unspecified security-related work. ICANN has never revealed publicly how this money is spent.

In terms of the number of submissions, the biggest concern people seem to have is that the proposed contract contains language obliging Verisign to take down domains to comply with “applicable law, government rules or regulations, or pursuant to any legal order or subpoena of any government, administrative or governmental authority, or court of competent jurisdiction”.

This language is already in the .com contract, but before ICANN clarified this on April 26 several concerned registrants had made comments opposing its inclusion.

Notably, the founder of the controversial troll forum kiwifarms.net, which has been kicked out of registrars after being linked to suicides, submitted his own “ICANN should be destroyed” comment.

Several commenters also noted that the definition of “security and stability” in the .net contract differs to the Base Registry Agreement that almost all other registries have signed in such a way that it is feared that Verisign would not have to abide by future ICANN Consensus Policies under certain circumstances.

As several commenters note, the usual protocol following an ICANN public comment period is for ICANN to issue a summary report, pay lip service to having “considered” the input, and then make absolutely no changes at all.

This time, some commenters held out some hope that ICANN’s new, surprisingly sprightly and accommodating leadership may have a different approach.

The comments can be read here.

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