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Investigations into ICANN transparency continue

Freedom of information request

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A new lobbying body calling itself itself the Campaign for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) has expanded its investigation into the internet overseeing organisation with a freedom of information request served on the US Department of Commerce.

The organisation has already served ICANN with a lawsuit in its home state of California claiming anti-trust abuses, and caused the EC to open an anti-competition investigation following a formal complaint.

Now it hopes to discover examples of ICANN being less than truthful by requesting "materials related to discussions, memos and meetings and related contact that the government agency has had with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on matters relating to the .net and .com registry agreements".

The request covers 1 January 2004 to 1 December 2005 and asks for all correspondence from the DoC to Department of Justice (DoJ), ICANN and VeriSign over the two contentious extension of the registry ownership. CFIT has promised to make all the materials it receives public.

"It is clear too much has happened out of public view and contrary to the bottom-up, consensus-driven decision-making that is a founding principle of ICANN," said CFOT spokesman John Berard.

He cited an example: "The day ICANN announced the .com deal with VeriSign, news reports were already quoting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Michael Gallagher endorsing it, yet reports from the agency since that time suggest the deal is still to be seen, let alone endorsed."

The relationship between ICANN and the US government has come under increasing scrutiny following the US government's successful retention of its oversight role of the Internet and the recent World Summit in Tunis.

Both the dotcom and dotnet contracts have been mired in controversy. The proposed new dotcom contract grants VeriSign perpetual ownership of all dotcoms, plus the right to raise prices by seven percent a year. Critics say this is grossly unfair and uncompetitive.

Meanwhile, the dotnet contract was re-awarded to VeriSign despite widespread criticism of the evaluation process and evidence that ICANN staff had swayed the process in VeriSign's favour. ®

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