dot.com domain monopoly silences critics

So you can stop talking about Us

One of the quirks of domain name history is that the keeper of the all-important root file, Network Solutions (now VeriSign), hosted the most popular discussion forum on the subject of domain name politics. Until yesterday, that is.

VeriSign yanked the Domain-Policy list, which ran up to several hundred messages a day on the vexing issue, without any notice yesterday.

Only the skimpiest of notes, entitled "List deactivation" was left as explanation:-

"This list will be closed effective immediately. When we started the list many years ago, there were no lists specifically focusing on domain policy issues. Today there are a wide range of public lists that address this topic. Thank you very much for your participation. Please refer all queries to Brian O'Shaughnessy, of VeriSign's Corporate Communications department at boshaughnessy@verisign.com."

And seconds later, as lawyer and keeper of the ICANN.Blog, Bret Fausett noted, it had vanished. Five years' worth of archived postings discussing domain policy also vanished in that instant.

There are plenty of places to discuss ICANN domain policy, such as the Slashdot-style ICANNWatch and Bret's own blog, and ICANN's own lists, of course. But it takes a particularly thin-skinned and cynical registrar that needs to yank all traces of criticism from its front porch, only five days after being granted an extension on its lucrative dot.com domain monopoly.

VeriSign was awarded an extension of the dot.com name despite opposition from the US Department of Justice, and leading US congressmen, by the Departement of Commerce. ®

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