As the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers kicks off its quarterly stakeholder meeting in Rome today, it does so under the shadow of a lawsuit that some say preempts ICANN’s own processes and was poorly timed.
VeriSign, which runs the .com and .net top-level internet domains, sued ICANN on Thursday, saying the domain name system manager should stick to a narrow technical remit and stay away from regulating VeriSign’s business.
The company alleges, among other things, that ICANN did not have the right to order VeriSign to turn off its controversial Site Finder service last October. The company said Site Finder was just one example of ICANN going ultra vires.
ICANN is no stranger to being sued by companies that don’t like its decisions (or lack thereof) but on Friday responded that it is disappointed that VeriSign has again chosen confrontation over consensus.
It is ironic that VeriSign has decided upon this path at the beginning of a week where the internet community is convening in Rome for inclusive bottom-up discussions on issues of importance to registries, ICANN said in a statement.
VeriSign VP of government relations Tom Galvin said Thursday that it was better that the suit be filed before the meeting, so those gathered in Rome could discuss it, but others think it may have the opposite effect.
It’s unfortunate, we would have liked to have gone into the meeting clean. Instead, this lawsuit has tied ICANN’s hands, said Elana Broitman, director of policy at Register.com Inc, one of VeriSign’s largest registrar channel partners.
In the past, she said, imminent lawsuits have made ICANN reluctant to discuss the issues covered by the suit for fear of what effect comments made could have in court. Also, she said, some of VeriSign’s complaints were set to be addressed in Rome.
Broitman agreed said ICANN’s processes need to be streamlined, but it should be done by ICANN, not the courts. Suing ICANN while it is trying to push through several important decision will distract its staff and consume resources, she said.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, is basically a contract dispute. The Registry Agreement signed by VeriSign and ICANN in 2001 implies that ICANN needs to approve registry services before VeriSign can launch them.
The two parties have never seemed to agree what constitutes a registry service, however. Site Finder and the Waiting List Service are both services where the two parties have clashed on the definition.
Unlike Site Finder, which was unilaterally delivered to the entire internet, WLS was submitted to ICANN for discussion because, according to Galvin, the proposed services has more moving parts and requires cooperation from registrars.
VeriSign says the WLS could have been launched and been generating revenue for 18 months had it not been for foot-dragging within ICANN. Approval of the service is due to be debated and voted on this week, now with the lawsuit hanging over the discussion.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire