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A controversial vote to give VeriSign control of the .net registry for the next six years has stalled.

A special meeting of the ICANN Board on Wednesday - the second in a month, both with .net top of the agenda - failed to reach agreement after a number of members abstained and the necessary quorum to pass a resolution wasn't reached.

The vote, called for by Hagen Hultzsch and seconded by chairman Vint Cerf, sought the re-selection of VeriSign in running .net. The duo along with a further three Board members voted in favour but two voted against and four abstained. A further four were not present.

Under ICANN bylaws a majority of Board members should be present for the meeting to be legitimate and a majority of those present need to vote in favour for a resolution to be carried. In this case, five were in favour but six were against or abstained.

The vote failure comes after a hotly contested process of selection for a new .net registry owner. As we exclusively revealed last month, ICANN had made a large number of changes to the public consultation process, all of which favoured VeriSign. The company chosen by ICANN to carry out the evaluation, Telcordia, also has close ties with VeriSign.

However, it was the level of criticism thrown at both the process and Telcordia that has given ICANN Board members pause for thought. Every single bidder in the process, except the winner VeriSign, has made highly critical public statements. Adding to this, two of ICANN's own constituencies ruled the process flawed, including the chairman of the committee which drew up the original evaluation criteria.

The first special meeting of the Board to decide on the issue, held on 3 May did not vote on .net because Telcordia had failed to complete a revised version of its final report. That report finally arrived late on Friday 27 May, giving interested parties just one working day to review it before the second special Board meeting yesterday, 1 June.

Telcordia's revised report still appears to contains numerous flaws and debatable judgements. It has corrected several blatant errors from the first version, but again decides in favour of VeriSign, and again appears to make arbitrary decisions in favour of one company or against another.

The .net issue will again go to the Board at a third special meeting next week on Tuesday 7 June. Since ICANN does not appear to be questioning the process or report or asking for further comment, it is difficult to see what real progress will be made in this time.

One thing does seem certain: the absent Board members will appear next week and, the organisation hopes, vote in favour in sufficient numbers to pass this highly irregular decision through.

.net vote of 1 June 2005. Motion to grant ownership to VeriSign.

In favour: Vinton G. Cerf; Hagen Hultzsch; Veni Markovski; Hualin Qian; Paul Twomey

Against: Alejandro Pisanty; Vanda Scartezini

Abstained: Raimundo Beca; Demi Getschko; Joichi Ito; Michael D. Palage

Absent: Mouhamet Diop; Thomas Niles; Njeri Rionge; Peter Dengate Thrush ®

Related stories

Verisign and .net: a winner all the way
VeriSign responds to .net report criticisms
VeriSign wins back .net registry
VeriSign enters MMS market with Lightsurf buy

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