Reject WLS
Date: Thursday July 11 2002, @07:41AM
Topic: Registrars

Anonymous writes "[The author is actually Dotster's Steve Vincent -- jtw]
Marilyn Cade (mcade@att.com)
Chairperson
DNSO Transfer/WLS Task Force

Dear Marilyn,

I strongly urge the Names Council to quickly finalize their draft recommendation concerning the Verisign WLS proposal and send it back to the ICANN Board with a resounding rejection. The need for urgency is based upon the fact that delays will only play into the hands of Verisign and SnapNames and their extensive lobbying and deal making efforts to gain WLS acceptance – at the expense of the rest of the Internet community. The WLS is a bad idea. Why? Because it takes a product available on the open, highly competitive registrar market, where competing products and consumer choice are available, and puts it at the sole-source monopoly registry level of the Internet."

Rejection of the WLS will still enable the SnapNames product to be available to the consumer at the registrar level but it will also enable competing services available to the consumer level to remain in business. Verisign’s proposal is blatantly anti-consumer and anti-competitive and will give Verisign an absolute monopoly on the expiring domain name market. This is bad for the consumer, bad for business, and bad for innovation.

There are other reasons why WLS needs to be rejected. ICANN needs to separate itself from the commonly held belief that it caters to special interests and is “owned” by Verisign. With all of the current issues surrounding Verisign, it is not wise for ICANN to accept the WLS proposal. For instance:

· Verisign is being investigated for deceptive advertising and domain “slamming.” Verisign is targeting unsuspecting domain owners with bogus “invoices” trying to get the consumer to transfer names to Verisign to re-register their names, not with their current registrar, but with Verisign, and often at two to three times the price. There are current lawsuits underway to resolve these issues, plus the issue appears to violate United States Postal Service statutes.

· The recently completed audit by Ernst and Young showed material non-compliance by Verisign to the ICANN Registry agreements. Of particular concern is Ernst & Young’s comment that Verisign “had not established adequate controls that would allow us to obtain sufficient evidence to determine compliance …… because Verisign did not maintain historical records….” With the current accounting scandals in the headlines, the fact that there are material non-compliance issues with the Verisign registry should generate a red flag of concern. ICANN should be very cautious about giving Verisign any additional power and control of the Internet through their monopoly at the registry level, particularly when monopolies have a tendency to abuse their power (and, with the case of Verisign, are in material non-compliance of their registry agreements based on audit findings).

Issues surrounding deceptive advertising, domain slamming, and material non-compliance with the Ernst and Young audit opens up legitimate questions about Verisign’s business practices and conduct. Is it wise, under these present circumstances, to grant them additional monopoly control through the WLS? Although Verisign will argue that issues involving the Verisign Registry are different and separate from those involving the Verisign Registrar, and that there is a wall between these separate entities, remember that at the top of the Verisign organization, financials are consolidated and there is a CEO who does look for advantage for Verisign by working the two separate entities together. WLS conveniently works to Verisign’s advantage at both the registry and registrar level at the expense of the consumer and competing businesses.

ICANN’s future is currently at stake. I think everyone agrees that reform within ICANN is needed. A widely held perception is that Verisign has too much influence and control with ICANN. If ICANN approves the WLS and thus gives Verisign additional monopoly power, it will help secure this perception that ICANN caters to special interests, is not independent, nor serves the best interests of the Internet community. ICANN needs to separate itself from Verisign’s hip by soundly rejecting the WLS proposal. This would announce to the world that ICANN may really be interested in reform and is, indeed, independent and serving the best interests of the whole Internet community – not just Verisign.

Respectfully submitted:

Steve Vincent
CEO, CAS Holdings, Inc.
Dotster Chairman of the Board

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Re: Reject WLS
by GeorgeK on Thursday July 11 2002, @07:52AM (#7777)
User #3191 Info | http://www.kirikos.com/
I didn't submit the story, but for the record the origin of that letter is the ICANN WLS Forum, namely at:

http://forum.icann.org/cgi-bin/rpgmessage.cgi?wls;3D2DD587000000FA

Dotster also issued a statement last night, which I consider the best summary to date against WLS, at:

http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/nc-transfer/Arc00/msg00341.html

It's in Word .doc format, at the very bottom. Someone converted it to ASCII text format here:

http://www.dnso.org/clubpublic/ga/Arc10/msg02794.html

For those who are against WLS, like myself, feel free to add your concerns at the ICANN WLS Forum mentioned above, and also sign the petition at:

http://www.petitiononline.com/antiwls/petition.html

Sincerely,

George Kirikos
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Reject WLS
by PeterBarron (pebarron@hotmail.com) on Thursday July 11 2002, @08:06AM (#7779)
User #3240 Info | http://www.icannwatch.org/
If there were more registries, this wouldn't be nearly the issue that it is.

ICANN's overbearing and tight fisted regulatory limitation of the market has created this monster.

++Peter
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
On the VeriSign aspect
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Thursday July 11 2002, @11:03AM (#7786)
User #2810 Info
VeriSign's second quarter earnings were below expectations yesterday [Reuters/Yahoo], some coverage [e-commerce times] of some of their current problems, and the problem [NY Times, may require free registration] of interlocking directorships, including Stratton Sclavos, CEO of VeriSign, who by his own admission only wants more than his fair share. -g
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Reject WLS
by RFassett on Thursday July 11 2002, @05:13PM (#7793)
User #3226 Info | http://www.enum.info
an average member of the registrant community does not benefit from the status quo or WLS. The vast majority of people are not going to spend the ridiculous and wasteful amount of time that I do to know:

1) how to register a deleted domain name (or even what this means)
2) or how to register a premium domain during a new registry "landrush"

This logic seems to be entirely lost in the WLS argument (i.e. what is in the best interests of the community as a whole that is logically representative of people that have far better things to do than analyze how to buy a domain name the split second it becomes available to do so). The day I can go into a store and buy domain.foo off the shelf when I feel like it and at normal retail price is the day artificial market mechanisms such as WLS (or the status quo options) will fill absolutely no market need - as it should be. Yes, I know, speculators serve a viable purpose and cringe at such radical thinking.

It's also quite funny to hear registrars crying "anti-competitive" reasons as a defense for WLS as they continue to gouge the registrant community with rip-off type fees relative to LR1, LR2 etc etc. Sorry, no sympathy from here. Somehow, I really do not think the registrar community has proven to care much about my interests when it comes to acquiring a domain considered as premium. No, this is about how much I can be gouged and what party gets it.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re: Reject WLS
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Saturday July 13 2002, @11:33AM (#7837)
User #2810 Info
Michael Palage cautions the registrars:
Although I have recused myself from the WLS issue, I have a strong objections on potential anti-trust grounds of this constituency voting on anything that recommends/discusses a price.
Charging more for a pre-existing domain than for a new one isn't justifiable on the name alone. It's due to the ready made traffic. SnapNames themselves admit that half their customers are speculators. I don't know how they catergorize those who want to catch traffic but I suspect that is the bulk of their business and would continue to be under the WLS.

Take a look at blindhit.com (some nudity), and there are many others out there like them. They pay 5 cents per click. So if you register a dropped name that was previously averaging 1000 hits per day, that's $50 income per day for the new owner, so of course the name is worth a WLS fee of $50 or many times that. You can see from this that even sites which previously had quite low traffic could turn a profit. Those who want to blindly hit you with ads (mostly for pr0n and gambling) are the folks who have the most to gain from the WLS, and VeriSign/Snapnames know that. This is being spun as a benefit to consumers but the vast majority of consumers, including those wanting names, those losing their names, and those who otherwise use the names in the way they were originally intended will all be the poorer for it.

VeriSign doesn't care. They want a bigger part of that action. VeriSign has already shown that they are willing to negotiate/drop the price somewhat and to give registrars a bigger piece, but they still own the pie. It sure looks and smells like something begging for anti-trust action to me. -g

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  • This article comes from ICANNWatch
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