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ICANN actually CHANGES Verisign’s .net contract after public comments

Kevin Murphy, June 28, 2023, 18:56:00 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN has decided to make a change to the upcoming new version of Verisign’s .net registry agreement in response to public comments, but it’s not the change most commenters wanted.

In the near-unprecedented nod to the public comment process, the Org says it’s agreed with Verisign to change two instances of upper-case “S” in the term “Security and Stability” to lower case.

That’s it.

Some commenters had wrung their hands over the fact that the .net contract includes upper-case “Security and Stability” as defined terms, in contrast to the lower-case “security and stability” found in other gTLD contracts.

Based on a strict reading, this could in some circumstances give Verisign an excuse to avoid implementing ICANN Consensus Policies, commenters including the Business Constituency and Intellectual Property Constituency noted,

It appears that this was an oversight by ICANN and Verisign rather that some kind of nefarious plot. In its public comments analysis and summary (pdf), ICANN writes:

We acknowledge however that the capitalization of the “s” could in theory potentially lead to different interpretations of the applicability of certain future Consensus Policies under Section 3.1(b)(iv)(1) for the .NET RA.

Because in this instance it was not the intent of ICANN org nor Verisign to limit in this manner the applicability of Consensus Policy topics for which uniform or coordinated resolution is reasonably necessary to facilitate the interoperability, security and/or stability of the Internet or DNS, ICANN org and Verisign have mutually agreed to update Section 3.1(b)(iv)(1) of the .NET RA to the lower case “s.”

So there we have it: a rare instance of a public comment period accomplishing something and a confirmed victory for accountability and transparency!

Most of the comments had focused on Verisign’s ability to raise prices and a clause that some domainers thought would allow censorial government regimes to seize domains, but ICANN said that’s all fine.

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Comments (1)

  1. B.Lambert says:

    It’s depressing & frustrating to witness apparent collusion between ICANN & Verisign. The Public Comment Summary Report is a classic example of Secretariat whitewash: writing up notes (or meeting minutes) to fit a desired scenario — ignoring & belittling uncomfortable topics. But this narrow dimension is easily tracked! Two topics I brought up are ignored, including too little investment in promoting IDN and how the present system lacks true stability: there’s no effort being made to designate any alternative suppliers or reserve contractors. Realistic contingency planning by ICANN should have redundant back-up operators poised to potentially takeover the contract in the event of disaster [which, for example, could include non-technical but disqualifying moral lapses by VeriSign management, or exposure of a toxic corporate culture]. The key point is to have backup for purposes of safety, but we can avoid this extremism of institutional capture.

    It’s as if we are peon living in a company town, in a banana republic – we’re ignored & abused by bosses. What recourse exists against the anti-competitive practices allowed & encouraged by ICANN? Class action lawsuit? Are there violations of antitrust laws? Could the California Attorney-General or European Union competition law address these issues?

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