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Registrars slam dotcom contract

Demand ICANN backtrack on Verisign deal

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Eight of the world's leading registrars have written to ICANN asking it to reject the new dotcom contract for handing too much power and control to incumbent VeriSign.

The heads of GoDaddy, Tucows, Register.com, Network Solutions, Melbourne IT, Intercosmos, BulkRegister and Schlund+Partner, who together represent nearly 60 percent of all internet domains registered by net users, have co-signed the letter [pdf] and urged ICANN chairman Vint Cerf to reject the new contract, despite its recent revision.

"The ICANN Board is poised to make an historic decision... we are writing to voice our deep concerns," the letter begins.

In particular, the registrars state that the seven per cent price increases written into the contract are unjustifiable since the business of registering domains has grown far cheaper in recent years. They also take exception to VeriSign being granted a "presumptive right of renewal" on the dotcom contract, which effectively hands permanent control of all dotcoms to the company.

Instead, they wish to see a "counterbalance" to VeriSign's "unregulated monopoly" in the form of a competitive bid for the dotcom registry when the new contract ends in 2012.

The letter also criticises both ICANN and VeriSign for refusing to release details of the $200m investment that VeriSign is obliged to have provided over the course of the existing contract.

VeriSign says it has invested that amount, ICANN says it is satisfied that it has, but the rest of the world remains sceptical.

The letter is just the latest controversy of the dotcom contract, which initially met a hostile reception at ICANN's Vancouver meeting in November. The overseeing organisation promised to revisit the contract and produced a revised version last month, but the changes made have not satisfied the internet community. ICANN is also being sued by an organisation calling itself the Coalition for ICANN Transparency.

The fear is that since part of the deal for signing the new dotcom contract will be VeriSign dropping its ruinous lawsuits against ICANN, that ICANN is itself compromised and so unlikely to act in the best interests of the internet as a whole.®

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