ICANN Sued by VeriSign

ICANN – the body whose job it is to coordinate control of the Internet’s naming and numbering systems – has recently been making decisions that many feel fall outside of it’s authority. Now, VeriSign, which has the contract to run .com and .net top level domains as a Registry operator, is suing ICANN, alleging it has overstepped it’s rights under the contract. The services in question are SiteFinder – a search service for helping users when they type a non-existent domain into a browser; Multi-lingual domains – allowing the use of all Unicode character strings in a domain name; and the Wait List Service, a service allowing the claim to a domain that is already registered in the event that the domain becomes available in the future.

Here is a story from MSN Money on the issue: The original is here

VeriSign Sues ICANN on Service Delays

February 26, 2004 5:19:00 PM ET

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Internet infrastructure company VeriSign Inc (VRSN). sued a domain-name oversight body on Thursday, saying it had overstepped its authority when it prevented VeriSign from introducing new Web-address services.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has no authority to prevent VeriSign from rolling out a search engine for users who mistype Internet addressees, VeriSign said, as well another feature that allows users to sign up for a waiting list for desirable domain names.

“This brazen attempt by ICANN to assume ‘regulatory power’ over VeriSign’s business is a serious abuse of ICANN’s technical coordination function,’’ said VeriSign in the suit, which was filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles.

An ICANN spokesman declined immediate comment.

Unlike other search engines, VeriSign’s Site Finder popped up on users’ screens when they typed in the name of a Web site that did not exist. Technical experts said it could impact the stability of the Internet, and rivals said VeriSign was abusing its position as administrator of the database of “.com’’ addresses.

ICANN ordered VeriSign to temporarily shut down the search service in October 2003 while it underwent technical review. The reviewing body has not yet issued a decision on the service.

Other proposed VeriSign services, such as the waiting list and a means to translate addresses into non-Roman alphabets, have been unnecessarily held up as well, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said.

Though ICANN restructured itself to operate more efficiently last year, a VeriSign official said the group was still too cumbersome.

“Working the ICANN process is like being nibbled to death by ducks,’’ said Tom Galvin, VeriSign’s vice president for government relations. “It takes forever, it doesn’t make sense, and in the end we’re still dead in the water.’’

Incorporated in 1998, ICANN oversees management of the Internet’s crucial addressing system which matches numerical addresses to familiar Web site addresses such as http://www.reuters.com.

One of its first tasks was to open up the sale of domain names for competition. Network Solutions Inc., which was bought by VeriSign in 2000 and sold last year, previously had been the only company authorized to sell domain names ending in “.com,’’ “.net’’ and “.org.’’

The nonprofit group has faced heated criticism from Internet activists who say it favors business interests, as well as developing-world governments that want a greater say in how the global computer network is run.

© 2004 Reuters

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