And now with this unfortunate disagreement behind us, we can get on with the important business of mismanaging the Internet

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Internet’s domain name "management body" — and I use that term loosely (see ".asinine" and "Debate over .xxx domain slowly builds toward climax") — has finally settled its 18-month dispute with VeriSign, extending the company’s contract to run the lucrative .com registry until 2012 in return for dropping an antitrust lawsuit against the nonprofit body. VeriSign, which enjoys a government granted monopoly over .com and .net addresses, sued ICANN back in 2004 after the agency spoke out against its SiteFinder technology (see "SiteFinder flap puts ICANN ineptitude to the test"), a service that hijacked people who misspelled domain names and sent them to a Web directory full of advertising. In its suit, VeriSign accused ICANN of overstepping its contractual authority and improperly attempting to regulate VeriSign’s business (see "VeriSign sues for right to route all Internet traffic to itself"). A serious claim and one that’s likely weighed heavily on ICANN in recent months, given the debate over U.S. vs. U.N. control of the Net. Little wonder, then, that it would up and settle its differences with VeriSign, even if it meant extending the company’s monopoly on the .com registry. Certainly VeriSign’s sudden recognition of ICANN’s authority will come in handy when arguing that it, not the U.N., is best positioned to provide international oversight of the Internet. And really, who cares if the community of Internet users loses as long as you can keep attending those thrice yearly board meetings in places like Rio and Marrakesh?



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  • Personally, I’m torn here. There’s no rational reason why one state should mismanage the Internet, as opposed to an international organization that represents the entire world. However, that boils down to a choice between ICANN (mission statement: “We can, really. At least we try”) and the ITU (mission statement: “We can’t. Have to protect telcos and other obsolete monopolists. Plus, with 200 members we’re guaranteed to fail to keep up with technology”).

    So perhaps having US control and ICANN mismanagement is the lesser evil.

  • netpolitical

    Lily Tomlin captured the ITU mission statement best:

    “Next time you complain about your phone service, why don’t you try using two Dixie cups with a string?

    “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Phone Company.”