[Comments-com-amendment-3-03jan20] Increased profit for VeriSign, complicity at the cost of others

Susannah thecommunity at gmail.com
Sun Feb 9 11:37:29 UTC 2020

Dear ICANN Board and Executive,

I write to request that you oppose Amendment 3 to the .com registry

1. The pretext for these price increases is internet security and
stability, but the cost will be borne by one small sector of the whole
population who benefit from, and rely upon the internet for commerce,
community, and personal use. In short, you would continue to make
registrants the cash cows for what are effect strings of digits, while
society at large, and internationally, could more justly spread the load of
funding internet security.

2. I suggest to you that VeriSign's desire to increase annual profits, with
prices ahead of the rate of inflation, has no real connection to the need
for internet security. Their request for changes in contract is not
philanthropic, nor does it have to be, but I argue it needs to be
challenged. The whole issue of internet security is a 'front'.

3. Internet security is an issue for the whole world, and not just
registrants, or ICANN, or the DoC, or (fundamentally) the USA. It is an
important issue that deserves governmental funding, and international
funding by agreement, but it has nothing to do with Verisign selling domain
name registrations through Registrars and increasing profit it from it.

4. Writing as a correspondent from the UK, and as a former elected member
of ICANN at Large who was at the heart of the challenge to the fraudulent
trademark claims by Registrars and Registrants during the .info
fiasco/scandal, I wish to voice a non-UK complaint of complicity that has
in the past, and arguably in this instance, been at work between DoC,
ICANN, Registries, and ultimately large Registrars as well. The Internet
does not only belong to the USA, and yet we still have a situation where a
Registry is cutting deals with a US governmental body, and offering
'sweeteners' ($20million) to ICANN. Historically, ICANN has often been
believed by others to collude with DoC and Registries/Registrars to oversee
a 'laissez-faire' approach to Internet Governance, and has effectively shut
out grassroots Internet Users who are more representative of the worldwide
internet public and society than DoC or Registries. The concern I express
is that, notwithstanding this 'consultation', this is a done deal.

5. It should be obvious to right-minded people that access to the internet
and its processes (including domain names) should be made increasingly easy
for people, especially in places of abject poverty and deprivation. Logic,
reason and compassion drives the case for lowering the price of registering
electronic strings of digits, not granting a large company carte blanche to
raise prices year by year.

6. The DoC has cut a deal, which impacts internet users across the world.
What governmental discussion has openly and transparently taken place
internationally to 'get permission' for the DoC's green light to these
changes? In a world where balkanisation of the Internet... in China, in
Russia, elsewhere...threatens to separate populations; and where there is a
continuing danger of internet access becoming layered on the basis of
wealth... ICANN's continuing dependence on DoC, and vested US interests
(including in this case corporate interests), is a reflection of a partisan
imbalance of power, where a domestic US department can rubber stamp
privileges for a corporation that impacts people across the world.

7. Policy should be developed by internet users and governments across the
world, rather than interest groups cutting deals in symbiotic
relationships. In my opinion, we have seen symbiotic relationships that
bring revenue to Registrars, to Registries, to ICANN... and in return for
this neat arrangement, the US reserves the right to basically govern the
Internet's DNS operation. Historically, ICANN has resisted the attempts to
give an ICANN at LARGE of ordinary internet users a significant role in
democratic oversight and policy development.

20 years ago, this complicity and collusion was, I believe, epitomised by
the appalling Afilias roll out of .info. When a board member of the Afilias
Registry itself was able to use fake trademarks to get domains, when
multiple Registrars did the same thing, when a single individual faked 5000
trademarks to get first picks of popular and valuable domains... and ICANN
were appealed to... and the response was laissez-faire until a worldwide
pressure group of users managed to force a re-run of that roll out... what
we witnessed was internet governance where vested interests were allowed to
game the system, and policy and rules and due process were glossed over.

That is where we are. It goes on. Corporate interest, and opaque
relationships in the US, seem to trump the interests of ordinary users. We
are talking about a system upon which nations and communities are dependent
for vital infrastructure, for medical work, for commerce, for compassionate
charities, for community groups, and for interaction between nations.
Policy is basically being imposed. These price rises will be imposed.

That is how policy is done. It's decided upon by those who will benefit
from it.

Susannah Clark
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