[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[registrars] Maintenance of NSI Monopoly on Renewals of Current Registrations



To all Registrars,

Please find below a copy of a letter our law firm today sent on our behalf
to the Department of Commerce and ICANN regarding the series of Agreements
awaiting ratification by the ICANN Board.  The issue we are raising affects
not only us, NameSecure.com, but all active and soon-to-be active
registrars.  We welcome your comments and support.  Please feel free to
contact me directly to discuss.

Best regards,

Jeff

--
Jeff Field                                 jfield@namesecure.com
Founder/President                          http://www.namesecure.com
NameSecure.com, Inc.
1042 Country Club Dr., Ste. 1-A           phone:  925-377-1212, ext. 100
Moraga, CA 94566-0127                       fax:  925-377-1414

--------------------------------------------------------------

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION


October 14, 1999


Esther Dyson
Interim Chair
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330 
Marina del Rey, CA 90292 

Michael M. Roberts 
Interim President
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) 
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330 
Marina del Rey, CA 90292 

J. Beckwith Burr
Associate Administrator (Acting)
Office of International Affairs 
National Telecommunications & Information Administration
Rm. 4701, U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230


                Re:     Recent Amendments to NSF Cooperative Agreement


Dear Ms. Dyson, Mr. Roberts & Ms. Burr:

I am writing on behalf of my client, NameSecure.com, Inc., in connection
with the recent amendments to the NSF Cooperative Agreements relating to
the domain name system.

NameSecure.com believes that the creation of ICANN, and the negotiation of
the recent September 28, 1999 amendments to the NSF Cooperative Agreement,
are substantial steps toward bringing competition to the domain name
system.  We appreciate the efforts of those involved, and believe that the
proposed agreements significantly improve the competitive landscape for
domain name registrations going forward.  However, we nonetheless request
that ICANN not ratify the pending agreements unless and until they are
modified to address a serious problem.  Going forward under these
agreements would grant to Network Solutions, Inc. ("NSI") an unearned
revenue stream likely to exceed $100 million per year.  That unfair benefit
to NSI will seriously injure NameSecure.com, and every other new entrant to
the registrar market.

As stated in the Department of Commerce Framework for Global Electronic
Commerce (the "White Paper"), one of the key principles in revamping the
domain name system was to facilitate competition in the domain name
registrar market.  Competition in that market will lead to lower prices,
greater choices, and improved service, both for new registrations and for
the renewal of current registrations.  Yet the proposed agreements do not
fully succeed at this goal.  Instead, they effectively hand NSI the ongoing
registrar duties for the approximately 5 million registrants that were
registered through the InterNIC system.

Absent any mechanism to address this problem, inertia is likely to bring
NSI's new registrar business the majority of these renewals.  This
perpetuation of the NSI monopoly will significantly hamper the development
of a truly competitive registrar market, to the injury of consumers.  NSI,
as a new registrar in the proposed competitive registrar market, has no
legitimate claim to continue to hold on to the InterNIC customer base
following the expiration of its contract to be the sole registrar operating
the InterNIC site.  We believe that any amended agreement should address
this problem.

Moreover, this continued monopoly is unfair to those seeking to compete in
the new market of registrars, such as NameSecure.com.  NameSecure.com is
open to any solution which timely informs the current registrants of their
choices in registrars, and which facilitates the choice of a renewal
registrar based on competition between registrars.  However, the current
proposals do neither.

NameSecure.com therefore proposes that all InterNIC renewal registrants be
informed of the names and prices of all participating registrars prior to
the expiration of their existing domain names, at which time each
registrant would be given the ability to designate its renewal registrar.
This could be achieved through ICANN, as a neutral body promoting
competition in the registrar market.  As with past plans addressing the
former telephone monopoly, existing customers who fail to select a renewal
registrar could then be allocated among all of the authorized registrars on
a random or rotating basis.  Indeed, there is at least some precedent for
such a mechanism in the proposed agreements.  The proposed ICANN-Registry
Agreement authorizes ICANN to adopt Consensus Policies which can cover "the
allocation among continuing registrars of the SLD names sponsored in the
registry by a registrar losing accreditation."  ICANN-NSI Registry
Agreement, Agreements,  3(C)(iv).  Just as this agreement foresees the
need to equitably distribute customers from registrars losing accreditation
to foster fair competition among the remaining registrars, so should the
names registered by NSI under the auspices of the original InterNIC
contract be equitably distributed in the new competitive registrar marketplace.

NameSecure.com believes that the preceding proposal (or some other
effective mechanism for assuring competition for renewal registrations) is
critically important to create a level playing field for all registrars
going forward.  However, at a minimum, NSI should not be permitted to
remain the registrar for those registrants who used the registration
services of one of the newly accredited registrars in its capacity as a
"registration services" company.  For example, NameSecure.com, which began
providing registration services by registering domain names for customers
in 1995, has spent millions of dollars to attract customers whose domain
names were registered into the InterNIC database through NameSecure.com's
services.  Now that NameSecure.com is also a registrar, it should not be
forced to give up those customers to NSI, its new direct competitor in the
registrar market.  It is unfair that NSI should benefit from the efforts of
these new registrars by now being the default registrar for the millions of
existing domain names.  This proposal would allow the new registrars to
benefit from their own efforts, rather than having those efforts benefiting
their new direct competitor, NSI.

NameSecure.com requests that ICANN consider these issues, which are
critical to the creation of a truly competitive registrar market, at its
upcoming Los Angeles Annual Meeting.  Absent implementation of these or
similar remedies, NSI will maintain its monopoly control of the registrar
market, to the injury of the new registrars and consumers.


                                Sincerely,

                                /s/

                                Gary L. Reback


cc:     Louis Touton, Esq.
        Andrew J. Pincus, Esq.