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[ga] Lipstick on a pig doesn't make me want to kiss it

  • To: ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: [ga] Lipstick on a pig doesn't make me want to kiss it
  • From: George Kirikos <gkirikos@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 30 Jan 2006 08:43:23 -0800 (PST)
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I just submitted my initial comments on the ICANN-VeriSign revised
settlement, although it takes a while for them to appear at
http://forum.icann.org/lists/revised-settlement/ . See
http://www.icann.org/topics/verisign-settlement.htm for the revised
settlement, and send your own comments to revised-settlement@xxxxxxxxx


No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it's still a pig. My lips
won't kiss that pig. 

The revisions that were made to the proposed ICANN-VeriSign settlement
were extremely minor, and the staff has, intentionally or
unintentionally, misread and mischaracterized the public comments on
the prior settlement proposal. 

One of the most misleading lines was in the analysis of public
comments, where someone (no staffer signed their name to the document,
to take responsibility for it) summarized the feelings toward price
increases as "Regarding registrants, there was some expression that
there might be some negative effects due to the potential price
increases, but, the majority across constituencies expressed that the
increase in cost was negligible when compared to the value of a domain
name registration." Most registrants, who are ultimately paying the
bills for ICANN, registries, registrars, etc, were solidly against the
price aspect of the proposed settlement. As I 
mentioned in my prior comments at: 


competitive bidding for the .com registry would have brought the
wholesale cost of .com domains to the $2/domain per year level,
approximately, a 66%+ reduction in costs. Yet ICANN considers it a
negotiating victory for consumers when there's no cost reduction at
all, but instead an average price INCREASE per year of 4.7% (i.e.
2/3rds of 7%). In technology-based industries, price REDUCTIONS, due to
economies of scale, are far more typical, yet ICANN somehow feels price
increases are desirable. It makes no sense. 

The only possible reason one could conclude that price INCREASES are
the norm would be if the majority of VeriSign's costs are not
technological. If the majority of VeriSign's costs consist of wining
and dining ICANN staff at exotic locations around the world, I might
begin to see your point.... 

The sale of traffic data provisions is unacceptable. Notice that the
language specifically permits access to data on "non existent domain
names" for "promoting the sale of domain names". In other words, if
example.com is getting a lot of type-in traffic, and is unregistered,
VeriSign could sell that data, thereby promoting low-cost
cybersquatting (since a large percentage of those types of names are TM
infringements, as various independent analysts of SiteFinder concluded.

Instead of monetizing that traffic itself, VeriSign will monetize it
indirectly. Furthermore, VeriSign will be able to see the traffic to
individual domain names (e.g. to know whether eBay.com is getting more
activity than Amazon.com, or more importantly, whether yourdomain.com 
is getting more DNS activity than yourcompetitor.com). 

With regards to Appendix W requirements related to R&D expenditures
(including universal WHOIS), there continues to be a total lack of
transparency, due to ICANN's continuing refusal to disclose the annual
reports of VeriSign. I did a search of the 2001 main agreement at: 


and the word "confidential" appears a total of ZERO times. The number
of times the word "private" is also ZERO. Yet, somehow, we are led to
believe that ICANN can't release these annual reports? Why? Yet, we've
not seen a Universal WHOIS. There are ORDINARY expenditures to increase
the .com registry capability (i.e. in keeping with normal registry
growth, with unchanged technology) that should not be treated as
Appendix W spending, yet we'll never know if these are being
mischaracterized. Instead, we have to rely on what we can see, namely
there exists NO UNIVERSAL WHOIS. Reliance on 3rd parties? That's false
--- every .com/net/org registrar HAS to sell the data to VeriSign or
anyone who requests it, for no more than $10,000/yr. VeriSign controls
the .tv registry, and a few others, so shouldn't have a hard time
negotiating with itself. 

In conclusion, after a first reading (I'll make more comments later,
should I discover more upon in-depth reading), the proposed settlement
agreement continues to be unacceptable. ICANN and VeriSign are shifting
the burden of costs related to the settlement on third parties, namely 
registrants (and to some extent registrars). ICANN and VeriSign should
go back to the negotiating table, and cut/out any part of the
settlement that relates to renewal of the .com registry. That "linkage"
was not necessary. The settlement should instead focus on only those 
issues related to the initial SiteFinder lawsuit, in particular the
definition of registry services, and whether VeriSign was in breach of
their 2001 registry agreement. 


George Kirikos 

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