IPcentral Weblog
  The DACA Blog

Monday, August 30, 2004

VeriSign v. ICANN
(previous | next)

ICANN's interference with VeriSign's introduction of new domain name system (DNS) services has been a source of tension for years. It came to a head in February when VeriSign filed a seven-count lawsuit against ICANN, alleging that ICANN's regulatory interferences breach multiple provisions of ICANN's Registry Agreement with VeriSign, interferes with VeriSign's business relations and violates Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

On Thursday, Judge Matz dismissed the antitrust claim, and directed that the case be transferred to state court where the remaining claims can be tried. He held that VeriSign's detailed allegations that competitors had captured ICANN's decision-making process were insufficient to establish an antitrust conspiracy, since VeriSign failed to allege facts establishing that competitors "controlled" or "dominated" ICANN's board.

I recently wrote a paper arguing that ICANN's regulatory excesses stifle innovation in domain name services, and that reliance on competition, rather than regulation by ICANN, would best serve consumers. Matz takes a rather narrow view of the corporate decision-making process, especially in light of the specific evidence of competitors' key role in many of ICANN's decisions, and even a statement by former ICANN president Stuart Lynn that ICANN's process was "too exposed to capture by special interests." (Judge Matz dismissed this by observing that Lynn had not actually "admitted" that the Board had been captured). But an antitrust claim is admittedly a blunt instrument for curbing ICANN's abuses. Press reports indicate that VeriSign will not appeal this decision (which would add further to the delay in introducing new services), but rather will pursue its state law claims.

As VeriSign's complaint and numerous critiques confirm, ICANN is out of control. It was created to promote competition in domain name services (DNS), given a very narrow regulatory mandate, and directed to meet basic standards of fair and open decision-making. It has adopted an increasingly expansive view of its regulatory mandate while providing virtually no procedural protections to affected parties. And its processes are clearly subject to capture. As a result, ICANN is delaying indefinitely the introduction of beneficial services.

Fortunately, Judge Matz's decision leaves VeriSign free to enforce ICANN's obligations under the Registry Agreement and related obligations in state court. ICANN's position clearly raises risks of regulatory abuse. But the Registry Agreement also contains provisions designed to prevent regulatory abuse by limiting ICANN's power and restricting the manner in which it can be exercised. ICANN should be strictly held to the letter and spirit of these protections.

posted by @ 4:19 PM | General

Share |

Link to this Entry | Printer-Friendly

Post a Comment:

Blog Main
RSS Feed  
Recent Posts
  EFF-PFF Amicus Brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court Videogame Violence Case
New OECD Study Finds That Improved IPR Protections Benefit Developing Countries
Hubris, Cowardice, File-sharing, and TechDirt
iPhones, DRM, and Doom-Mongers
"Rogue Archivist" Carl Malamud On How to Fix Gov2.0
Coping with Information Overload: Thoughts on Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
How Many Times Has Michael "Dr. Doom" Copps Forecast an Internet Apocalypse?
Google / Verizon Proposal May Be Important Compromise, But Regulatory Trajectory Concerns Many
Two Schools of Internet Pessimism
GAO: Wireless Prices Plummeting; Public Knowledge: We Must Regulate!
Archives by Month
  September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
  - (see all)
Archives by Topic
  - A La Carte
- Add category
- Advertising & Marketing
- Antitrust & Competition Policy
- Appleplectics
- Books & Book Reviews
- Broadband
- Cable
- Campaign Finance Law
- Capitalism
- Capitol Hill
- China
- Commons
- Communications
- Copyright
- Cutting the Video Cord
- Cyber-Security
- Digital Americas
- Digital Europe
- Digital Europe 2006
- Digital TV
- E-commerce
- e-Government & Transparency
- Economics
- Education
- Electricity
- Energy
- Events
- Exaflood
- Free Speech
- Gambling
- General
- Generic Rant
- Global Innovation
- Googlephobia
- Googlephobia
- Human Capital
- Innovation
- Intermediary Deputization & Section 230
- Internet
- Internet Governance
- Internet TV
- Interoperability
- IP
- Local Franchising
- Mass Media
- Media Regulation
- Monetary Policy
- Municipal Ownership
- Net Neutrality
- Neutrality
- Non-PFF Podcasts
- Ongoing Series
- Online Safety & Parental Controls
- Open Source
- PFF Podcasts
- Philosophy / Cyber-Libertarianism
- Privacy
- Privacy Solutions
- Regulation
- Search
- Security
- Software
- Space
- Spectrum
- Sports
- State Policy
- Supreme Court
- Taxes
- The FCC
- The FTC
- The News Frontier
- Think Tanks
- Trade
- Trademark
- Universal Service
- Video Games & Virtual Worlds
- VoIP
- What We're Reading
- Wireless
- Wireline
Archives by Author
PFF Blogosphere Archives
We welcome comments by email - look for a link to the author's email address in the byline of each post. Please let us know if we may publish your remarks.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation