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Reaction to VeriSign's New 36-Hour Deadline

ICANN today has made a formal demand stating: "Given the magnitude of the issues that have been raised, and their potential impact on the security and stability of the Internet, the DNS and the .com and .net top level domains, VeriSign must suspend the changes to the .com and .net top-level domains introduced on 15 September 2003 by 6:00 PM PDT on 4 October 2003. Failure to comply with this demand by that time will leave ICANN with no choice but to seek promptly to enforce VeriSign's contractual obligations."

What follows is a collection of commentaries made around the net and by experts in response to today's announcement:

Paul Twomey, ICANN President and CEO

"...our review of the .com and .net registry agreements between ICANN and VeriSign leads us to the conclusion that VeriSign’s unilateral and unannounced changes to the operation of the .com and .net Top Level Domains are not consistent with material provisions of both agreements. These inconsistencies include violation of the Code of Conduct and equal access provisions, failure to comply with the obligation to act as a neutral registry service provider, failure to comply with the Registry Registrar Protocol, failure to comply with domain registration provisions, and provision of an unauthorized Registry Service. These inconsistencies with VeriSign's obligations under the .com and .net registry agreements are additional reasons why the changes in question must be suspended pending further evaluation and discussion between ICANN and VeriSign.

Given these conclusions, please consider this a formal demand to return the operation of the .com and .net domains to their state before the 15 September changes, pending further technical, operational and legal evaluation. A failure to comply with this demand will require ICANN to take the steps necessary under those agreements to compel compliance with them.

Various press reports have quoted VeriSign representatives as being concerned about the processes by which changes in the operation of top-level domains are evaluated and approved by ICANN. I share those concerns. The introduction by registry operators of new products or services that do not threaten adverse effects to the Internet, the DNS or the top-level domains which they operate should not be impeded by unnecessary or prolonged processes. On the other hand, VeriSign, like other operators of top level domains, occupies a critical position of public trust, made even more important given the fact that it is the steward for the two largest generic top level domains. This means that VeriSign has both a legal and a practical obligation to be responsible in its actions in operating those top level domains."
(Source: ICANN)

Russell Lewis, Executive VP of VeriSign's Naming and Directory Services Group

"Without so much as a hearing, ICANN today formally asked us to shut down the Site Finder service. We will accede to the request while we explore all of our options...During the more than two weeks that Site Finder has been operational, there is no data to indicate that the core operation of the Domain Name System or stability of the Internet has been adversely affected. ICANN is using anecdotal and isolated issues to attempt to regulate non-registry services, but in the interests of further working with the technical community we will temporarily suspend Site Finder."
(source: Yahoo! Finance)

Steve Vincent, President of CAS-Holdings, Inc.

"I am glad to see that ICANN has taken action against Verisign’s blatant disregard and lack of respect for the Internet community in relation to the Sitefinder introduction. It is refreshing to see ICANN move quickly and take a stand that is right, has some backbone, and is against Verisign. It helps belie my worry that ICANN, Verisign and the Department of Commerce are in bed with each other on all of the issues at the expense of everyone else. My only concern is that ICANN will throw Verisign the WLS “bone” in exchange for ceasing Sitefinder. ICANN needs to keep in mind that WLS, just as Sitefinder, places services at the Registry level where Verisign has monopoly control, removing competition at the registrar level and reducing consumer choice to the huge financial benefit of Verisign.

I hope ICANN is successful with this. If not it will become an ineffective and worthless body. Good luck, ICANN."
(Source: ICANNWatch)

Christopher Ambler, Internet Consultant

"So the key question now is, "what will Verisign do?" What will they do, indeed. My gut reaction is to guess that they're not going to comply. Why should they? They're making mumble-mumble dollars per day on this "feature," which is multiples of what it will cost them to fight ICANN's demand, even if it goes to court. Every day that they drag it out is money in the bank. Coupled with Verisign's insistence that what they're doing is not against any contract (and certainly not illegal), I just can't see them folding.

I predict that Verisign will very politely decline ICANN's "request," and state that the issue requires more study before coming to a conclusion. Much like any controversial aspect of ICANN's operation needs "more study" before moving forward. It's worked in the past; I suspect it'll work now."
(Source: Ambler On The Net)

George Kirikos, President, Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.

"Given that there's another controversial matter that VeriSign wants ICANN to "give" on, namely WLS, I wonder whether ICANN and VeriSign have cut a deal, horse-trading WLS fast-track approval on favourable terms to VeriSign, in exchange for a SiteFinder suspension.

For instance, despite ICANN "warning" VeriSign not to use an October 27th launch date for WLS, they still do so at:

https://www.nextregistrationrights.com/backorder.sn

That "warning" might have been a charade, though, for their defense of the the legal case against them (see www.stopwls.com), as it seemed very half-hearted. Given the warning was made almost a month ago:

http://www.icann.org/correspondence/twomey-letter-to-gomes-04sep03.htm

and ICANN is not enforcing VeriSign's obligations, it leads me to believe that the delay might be a result of continuing "negotiations" on how to put the best public "spin" on things, for VeriSign to get what it truly wants. It only takes 2 minutes to edit a website, but I can imagine a month's delay, given the "need" for lawyers to stretch out negotiations at fancy restaurants, etc., all on the registrants' bill (it is domain name registrants who ultimately fund all of ICANN).

If ICANN wants to prove that it is not a paper tiger, and that it has not been "captured" by VeriSign and is simply a front for the VeriSign PR machine, it should immediately announce that:

1) they are allowing the Independent Review Panel to review WLS, as had been requested formally by Dotster in 2002 (and which ICANN refused)

2) they will not submit contract amendments for WLS to the Department of Commerce until such time as the legal case before the courts is concluded, and/or Consensus Approval of the proposed service is achieved."
(Source: GNSO Mailing List)

Steve Crocker, Chairman of ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee

"VeriSign introduced its wild card service, and although I am told there was some kind of advance notice, it came upon the world as a surprise and after some hours it became clear that it is a pretty big deal...The preliminary evidence suggests Site Finder has impacted the stability of the Internet… Now you have a warring set of changes and it becomes a rickety system. That makes us engineers nervous. Generally we like to make changes slowly, carefully and with a great deal of consultation"

Mark Lewyn, co-founder of Paxfire Inc.

"War has broken out...This is a battle over who controls the rules and regulations of the Internet going forward. "

Bobthemuse, Slashdot Commentator

"So what exactly is ICANN going to do if they do not comply? The threat of legal action doesn't mean too much, as it can take years to resolve and based on the legal system's understanding of current technology, the outcome is completely up in the air.

Could ICANN actually transfer everything to another company? How long would this take? Is anybody set up to handle this? Think of all the little registrars which exist today, would this be a huge job?"
(Source: Slashdot)

NOTE: For further update to this post click here.

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Re: Reaction to VeriSign's New 36-Hour Deadline Mensa  –  Oct 03, 2003 12:23 PM PDT

Over the past few years I have often wondered how Verisign was delegated the power it appears to have over the domain segment of the Internet. This is just the latest of Verisign’s unethical practices and is, clearly, another ploy to take advantage of it’s [position].

If this dispute is not resolved in a timely fashion with Verisign dismantling their “wildcard” service, a higher body needs to take control of the domain registry system. By higher power, I am referring to a government body that can, and will, police the system in an effective manner.

The cease and desist letter from ICAAN means just that and if this does not happen, ICAAN needs to be replaced with some body that can enforce specific demands.

Re: Reaction to VeriSign's New 36-Hour Deadline vps guy  –  Oct 04, 2003 8:50 AM PDT

Verisign's Microsoft-Like approach to the Internet will ultimately lead all, including Congress, to conclude that the private Internet sector is incapable of managing its affairs.  Once again, corporate greed has reared its ugly head raising the specter of government regulation.

The only business Veri-Sign should be involved in is maintenance of the master database.  If they cannot do that honestly then ICANN should take it from them.  If ICANN allows this or WLS to proceed then I, for one, will be emailing my congressman to the effect that the Internet poses such a great vulnerability to our countries financial stability that the all the functions of ICANN and Veri-Sign must be taken over by the federal government.

Having read the last sentence in this post, many will be taken aback.  Why, you may be thinking, would anyone wish for such a result?  From my perspective, I would rather have the government regulation and watch my, and my customers, money going into a big government black hole than to enrich the greedy heads of Veri-Sign who can only be grouped with the likes of the former executives of Enron, MCI, Tyco, etc.

Re: Reaction to VeriSign's New 36-Hour Deadline Matthew Elvey  –  Oct 04, 2003 11:55 AM PDT

Having read the competing proposals from various organizations, and based on rich experience with Verisign (including visiting the very secure offices where they manage the GTLDs) I am confident that there are several other groups that could take over management of .com and .net quite quickly, and do a better job.
Their hijacking of .com and .net and expirations puts them out of the running. 

Re: Reaction to VeriSign's New 36-Hour Deadline Rand Noel  –  Oct 04, 2003 9:01 PM PDT

If our Spiritual consciousness and evolution (read that to mean Integrity, Morality, Ethics You get the Idea....) doesn't keep pace with our technological consciousness & evolution. Then it wont be long before the rebound effect of our greediness will snap us in the backside all the way back to hunters & gathers and the only web well have to worry about is the one some spider wove on our face wilst we slept in the wet grass of ignorance. Nuff said Shieldwolf from Shieldwolf Security. ...Security Hunh!!!! Security now there's a new oximoron - Technology of the soul

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