VeriSign Keeps Control of .com Through 2012

The board of director of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted to approve a new deal with registrar VeriSign which keeps the company in place as the registrar the Internet’s .com top-level domain through at least the year 2012, and maybe even longer.

Under the agreement, VeriSign will retain control of the .com registry through 2012, with the possibility of renewal. VeriSign will also be permitted to raise wholesale fees for domains in the .com top-level domain in four of the next six years. VeriSign also controls the .net registry, and praised the agreement for following closely along the lines of the .net agreement, which ICANN approved in 2005.

The deal settles outstanding litigation between ICANN and VeriSign, but it doesn’t end bitter sentiments among other registrars, who claim VeriSign has used its administration of the .com top-level domain to unfair advantage by introducing services such as SiteFinder (which directed requests for non-existent domains to ad-sponsored pages run by VeriSign) and a waiting list service which other registrars said gave VeriSign an unfair advantage selling registrations.

The Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) claims the new VeriSign agreement will actually lead to more disputes over the way the Internet’s top-level domains are managed, rather than put past disagreements to rest. IN response to the deal, SFIT spokesperson John Berard wrote: “Voting in favor of a bad deal doesn’t change the deal’s dynamics, it just confirms ICANN’s refusal to listen to legitimate criticism coming from every corner of the Internet community. There will not be less litigation. There will likely be more litigation.”