Did VeriSign Try to Pull a Very Fast One?
Date: Tuesday December 12 2006, @04:43PM
Topic: Registrars

The GA list is a fount of interesting stuff today. Consider this post from Danny Younger, forwarding from the Registrars list. If I read this right, it pretty much accuses VeriSign of deeply underhanded dealings:

From the registrars list:

All: I just sent this note to VeriSign. I hope that VeriSign will handle this issue shortly, but we are waiting until it is resolved before taking any action with the draft agreement. Thanks. Jon


From: Nevett, Jonathon
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 11:35 AM
To: Dahlquist, Raynor
Cc: 'mshull@xxxxxxxxxxxx'; 'Gomes, Chuck';
Subject: RRA Changes
Importance: High

Dear Raynor:

We received a letter yesterday from VeriSign dated December 6th requesting that we execute an attached copy of the new Registry-Registrar Agreement for the .com regsitry. The letter states that the agreement provided is "the new ICANN approved .COM Registry-Registrar Agreement that will take effect and supersede your existing .COM Registry-Registrar Agreement with VeriSign, Inc on 30 December 2006."

In the abundance of caution, we compared the copy of the agreement attached to the letter with the agreement actually approved by the ICANN Board and the U.S. Department of Commerce as Exhibit 8 to the .com Registry Agreement ([LINK]), and there are both substantive and non-substantive differences between the version VeriSign sent to us for execution and the version approved by ICANN and the DOC. These changes include adding various VeriSign-affiliated parties to the agreement.


[Continued from above]

I brought this situation to ICANN's attention. According to Kurt Pritz, ICANN was aware of VeriSign's request to ICANN to make the substantive and non-substantive changes, but stated in no uncertain terms that ICANN has not "approved or adopted" any changes to the RRA as required in Section 6.1. Therefore, VeriSign's statement that ICANN approved the version of the agreement sent to us is false. Moreover, not only did VeriSign misrepresent that it received ICANN approval to change the agreement, it also failed to inform registrars of the changes from the version posted on the ICANN website.

I find it remarkable that VeriSign would try to change the terms of the RRA in this manner, regardless of the substance of the changes. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and violates the terms and spirit of our relationship. Indeed, we should be trying to engage in a period of healing after the long and sometimes bitter dispute over the advisability of the new .com registry agreement. Instead, VeriSign apparently is engaging in deceptive and obfuscating behavior.

First, please let me know how you plan on rectifying this situation. Second, we should discuss a procedure for making future changes to the .com and .net RRAs so we don't continue to repeat this same scenario every few years. As per the terms of the contract, ICANN must approve any changes to the agreement. As a transparent organization, ICANN should give the other party to the agreement - the registrars - an opportunity to review and comment on proposed changes before they are approved. It is irrelevant whether VeriSign or ICANN believes that such changes are substantive. Any changes to a contract to which registrars are a party should be shared with us before they are approved. Something that may appear to be benign to ICANN or VeriSign might have some unintended consequence to other parties to the agreement.

Third, if VeriSign does seek to change certain provisions of the agreement from the version ICANN and the DOC recently approved, I suggest that it seek to delete Section 6.15(a)(6), which still refers to a Surety Instrument that VeriSign removed from all other parts of the contract.

I look forward to hearing back from you.


So here's my question: IF this is all true, is it the sort of misconduct that could lead to ICANN suspending its deal on .com with VeriSign?

And here's my second question: IF this is all true, and it isn't the sort of misconduct that could lead to ICANN suspending its deal with VeriSign...what is?

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