'Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule'
Date: Wednesday September 11 2002, @02:32AM
Topic: The Big Picture

For an excellent analysis of why ICANN should not be in the competition-regulation business, look no further than, Domain Name Services: Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule by the Progress and Freedom Foundation's William F. Adkinson, Jr.:

This paper focuses on an aspect of ICANN's activities that has received surprisingly little attention: its regulation of prices and services in the domain name system. In the mold of a traditional economic regulatory agency, ICANN regulates entry into the domain name business and sets the price at which some (but not other) domain name registries can offer services. While such regulation may once have been justified, the domain name marketplace is now competitive. Moreover, ICANN appears to be engaging in regulatory "mission creep," seeking to regulate in detail the nature of service offerings in the domain name marketplace. If not restrained, ICANN thus threatens to morph into an entity that might more appropriately be called the "Internet Commerce Commission." Such an entity is neither necessary nor desirable. Instead, the Department of Commerce should use this opportunity to end economic regulation of the DNS once and for all.

An interesting counterpoint appears in the ICANN Blog, where Bret Fausett argues that,

The paper has a lot to recommend it. Where it goes wrong, however, (fatally wrong, IMO) is in assuming that the nascent, year-old registry market is already essentially competitive and that Verisign is checked by the likes of Neustar and Afilias. It's not. In fact, so long as entry into the registry market is closed to qualified new businesses, Verisign doesn't truly face open and effective competition. Mr. Adkinson's/Verisign's theory will look a lot better when the market is relatively open to new competitors.
Once again we have a debate between the "first-do-no-wrong" school and the "let's-keep-hoping-two-wrongs-make-a-right" school. Bret's right about the registry market. I suspect he's right about VeriSign. I cannot for the life of me see why he or anyone still thinks ICANN is competent to solve this problem, or has the legitimacy or desire to solve it. How many years of delay on a sensible TLD plan before we give it up for lost?

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Open entry is a requirement for a free market
by Mueller ({mueller} {at} {syr.edu}) on Wednesday September 11 2002, @03:58AM (#9148)
User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/
I haven't read the report yet, but looking at summaries I suspect PFF is being a bit disingenuous, and perhaps may be arguing to a brief from VeriSign.

OF COURSE they are right that ICANN is a regulator, and that it isn't qualified to be a regulator, and that a competitive market doesn't need a global regulator. However, they seem to say nothing to press ICANN and Commerce to establish a method for routine authorization of new TLDs, and establishing the basic technical parameters (e.g., how many per year?) for doing so.

Until free entry is established the system is a government-sanctioned cartel, and the problems associated with restricted entry will continue to be used by whining registrars as excuses for continued regulation.

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Re: 'Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule'
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Wednesday September 11 2002, @05:08AM (#9155)
User #2810 Info
Also via the icann.blog, global regulator?
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Re: 'Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule'
by GeorgeK on Wednesday September 11 2002, @06:05AM (#9158)
User #3191 Info | http://www.kirikos.com/
It's all about WLS, for sure (they give that as one of the examples). Their idea that the registries are competitive is laughable. They're monopolies, and the only true competition exists at the registrar layer.

For those who didn't notice, the author of the paper, William F. Adkinson, Jr., used to work at Wilmer (see here, the same Washington law firm where Becky Burr, counsel to SnapNames works. Coincidence? You decide.
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PFF is coopted
by Mueller ({mueller} {at} {syr.edu}) on Wednesday September 11 2002, @06:14AM (#9160)
User #2901 Info | http://istweb.syr.edu/~mueller/
OK, I've read the paper now and it is as I feared. PFF probably got a grant from VeriSign to write that paper. They argue, contrary to all reason and fact, that the REGISTRY market is "competitive", and imply that new entry is needed. The analysis follows closely that of Cochetti's testimony in June.
While I agree that the registrar market is quite competitive, this is simply not true of the registry market.

How many "competitive markets" do you know that DON'T ALLOW ANY NEWCOMERS TO ENTER? How many markets with closed entry have 60% of the registrations concentrated in one supplier would a real economist define as "competitive"?

Of course, these entry restrictions do NOT justify ICANN regulation - they justify the definition of a routine procedure for adding new TLDs.

It's "wonderful" to see so-called "free market" advocates get co-opted so easily. Thanks, PFF.
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Re: 'Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule'
by RFassett on Wednesday September 11 2002, @07:59AM (#9162)
User #3226 Info | http://www.enum.info
I would like to draw attention here to this reponse I made to Kent Crispen on the GA list. I am still awaiting any type of response (note Mr. Crispen's remarks are in quotations...the silence is deafening):

Subject: Re: [ga] WLS Suggestion
From: "Ray Fassett"
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 2002 19:52:08 -0400 (EDT)
Reply-To: ray@fassett.org
Sender: owner-ga-full@dnso.org

At 8:47 AM -0700 8/24/02, kent@songbird.com wrote:

"But if you operate from the premise that ICANN has *never* been in the position of regulator, then it has done quite well."

ICANN continues to regulate the number of TLD registries.

"ICANN was never intended to be a regulator, and, contrary to popular delusion, it has *never* had the will to be one."

ICANN accomplishes, by contract, regulatory measures that include: wholesale price capping, the type of registry (i.e. unsponsored-
unrestricted, unsponsored-restricted, sponsored-restricted), and UDRP compliance. ICANN "intends" to do this (by contract) by way of regulating
the number of TLD registries and indeed does - by its own actions - have such "will" to do so.

I will agree that ICANN "was never intended to be a regulator". Artificially limiting the number of TLD registries - as ICANN continues to do - is the act of a regulatory body. There is no question about this.

"In concrete terms, it doesn't matter what policies ICANN comes up with -- if a large registry doesn't sign the resulting contract, the policy is meaningless."

ICANN uses the regulatory action of artificially limiting the number of TLD registries to impose additional regulatory measures that you claim are
merely by way of contract agreement. Again, ICANN's actions have shown it has the "will" to be a regulatory body.


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Re: Wrong
by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Wednesday September 11 2002, @04:43AM (#9153)
User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
Sounds like what you're saying is that ICANN needs to keep new flakes and scumbags from entering the domain registrar or registry business in order to protect the market of the existing pirates, gamers, and fraudsters... is that right?
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  • Re: Wrong by PeterBarron Wednesday September 11 2002, @06:11AM
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Re: Wrong
by RFassett on Wednesday September 11 2002, @10:25AM (#9170)
User #3226 Info | http://www.enum.info
"That is to say, in my opinion, New.net cannot be trusted...."

Then do not buy their products.

"If all alternative registries were fashioned after IOD, I would be more inclined to yank the power away from ICANN."

It's really not about yanking power away. ICANN is the entity that has been empowered to "fashion" technical compliance in a way that can "foster" competition at the top level. It is not about yanking away this power, but everything about ICANN acting upon a core function for its very existence. Understanding its motivations for NOT doing so is the issue.

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Re: Wrong
by fnord (groy2kNO@SPAMyahoo.com) on Thursday September 12 2002, @07:24AM (#9204)
User #2810 Info
Well, in fact the ICANN USG DNS root is actually smaller than many complementary roots. -g
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  • Re: Wrong by Hendrik Saturday September 14 2002, @09:50AM
    • Re: Wrong by fnord Saturday September 14 2002, @11:33AM
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