Here's the ICANN/Verisign deal, as reported by Declan McCullaugh on News.com today. Under a settlement agreement arising out of the SiteFinder dispute between the two groups, Verisign will be able to raise .com domain rates 7% a year - far above the inflation rate. Declan calculates that at the current number of .com domains of 48 million, Versign gets a guarantee of almost $300 million in domain revenue.
For its part ICANN gets annual payments of $6 million to $12 million.
The ICANN board split over this deal with ICANN's top management going for it, and other board members dissenting.
Those voting in favor of the deal included ICANN Chairman Vint Cerf, who is Google's chief Internet evangelist; ICANN Vice Chairman Alejandro Pisanty; and ICANN President Paul Twomey. Voting against it were Raimundo Beca, Susan Crawford, Joichi Ito, Njeri Rionge and Peter Thrush. There was one abstention, by Michael Palage, an attorney in the U.S.
Congress may yet get in the way of the deal.
It has to be approved by the U.S. Commerce Department, and some members of Congress are already urging that it be rejected. Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, said in a letter to the Bush administration last month that the proposal has "serious anti-competitive implications."
And there will be more lawsuits.
The Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT), a group set up after details of the settlement became public last fall, blasted Tuesday's vote. "Voting in favor of a bad deal doesn't change the deal's dynamics. It just confirms ICANN's refusal to listen to legitimate criticism coming from every corner of the Internet community," said John Berard, the coalition's spokesman.
CFIT has sued VeriSign and ICANN. In court documents filed last month, the group alleges that the .com deal represents an "unlawful agreement to establish a permanent monopoly" in violation of federal antitrust and California unfair competition laws.
Verisign filed suit against ICANN in 2004 after ICANN blocked their SiteFinder project which brought surfers who entered nonexistent domains to a Verisign sales page.