VeriSign and ICANN strike monster net deal
Verisign drops lawsuits, gets dotcom registry to 2012
With enormous financial resources, VeriSign has put ICANN under heavy pressure by launching numerous lawsuits. ICANN admitted as much in its 2004 annual report, and publicly stated it again in the minutes of its Board meeting yesterday, stating: "Significant ICANN funds and staff, and ICANN community resources, have been devoted to addressing many long-standing points of tension and litigation between VeriSign and ICANN, which have adversely affected the broader internet community".
VeriSign has also very effectively lobbied Washington over the years to put pressure on ICANN to make decisions in its favour.
The situation had to come to an end eventually and the price for VeriSign to finally hand over authority over the root zone - the lynchpin of the internet - was control of the two biggest global registries on the internet - dotcom and dotnet - for another six years.
Under the proposal, VeriSign and ICANN will create and agree to clear definitions and processes on the future of the domain name system - including the all-too-familiar and hopelessly abused "security and stability" mantra.
VeriSign has agreed not to make changes to registry services without prior notice. A standing panel of international neutral technical experts will review proposed changes to registry services. And competition issues will be referred to appropriate governmental competition authority/authorities.
The whole agreement is excellent news for both ICANN and VeriSign but also for the wider internet community.
Most significantly in the current context, the deal provides ICANN with some much-needed authority. The organisation's entire future in being debated across the world and will most likely be decided next month at a World Summit in Tunisia.
As it stands, the world is split into three camps over how the internet should be run in future. One group, lead by the US, wants the status quo to remain and the US government to remain in overall but loose control of ICANN, with ICANN deciding all fundamental decisions about the internet.
A second camp - led by Brazil, China and Cuba - wants control of the internet taken away from ICANN altogether and given to a new United Nations body. And a third compromise camp - led by the EU - suggests a new forum to discuss internet issues plus a new body of international governments that would have overall control of ICANN.
With ICANN embued with more authority it should be able to push negotiations more in its favour. Only time will tell.®