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Denic damns 'errors' in .net report

Serious questions raised

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The report that this week decided the ownership of the second most important directory on the Internet has been called into question with the claim that a fundamental element of it is factually incorrect.

One of the five bidders for the .net registry, Denic, has denounced the report, calling it "sloppy" and pointing out "serious factual errors". In the report, Denic is largely ruled out because, the report says, it runs an in-house proprietary database.

The company - which runs the second-biggest registry in the world, the German .de with eight million domains - categorically denies this. Denic "actually uses a commercial product from one of the world's foremost suppliers - a point made expressly in the application documentation". Asked where the report team got the idea that Denic was running a database built in-house, a Denic spokesman replied simply: "I have no idea."

The other bidders not chosen are also known to harbour serious doubts about the report's fairness and accuracy but have so far refused to go public.

The report itself - by US technology company Telcordia - put incumbent registry VeriSign at the top of its list. As a result, Internet overseeing organisation ICANN has already begun discussions with the company over renewal of the contract which ends on 30 June this year.

However, serious questions remain over conflicts of interest and links between Telcordia and VeriSign and closer inspection of the report has revealed that the criteria used to arrive at the decision appear to be weighted in favour of VeriSign.

The most significant conflict of interest is that Telcordia was until very recently owned by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) - the company that bought and owned VeriSign for a long time, selling it in 2000 but still holding shares in the company until 2003.

A key member of the evaluation team William Roper is a director of both SAIC and VeriSign. Another member of the team, Dr Sincoskie worked for VeriSign for over a year when it was Network Solutions. What is also clear is that while several DNS experts were consulted extensively for the .net evaluation, they appear to have been given no input into the decision-making process.

Denic is not only concerned about factual inaccuracies, it is also deeply concerned about the colour-scoring system used by Telcordia to decide the winner. "The evaluators' report does not make it at all clear how other applicants were awarded much better rankings," it stated.

A careful review of the report raises numerous questions over why one company was given a higher ranking and why another a lower ranking. The introduction of criteria in which VeriSign by default came top (because it already runs .net and .com) arguably skews the results, and the team does not appear to have addressed stability and competition within the wider Internet space.

ICANN and Telcordia were unavailable for comment. ®

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