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Network Solutions Weighs In On ICANN Guidelines

Network Solutions, which will soon lose its government-granted monopoly on .com domains, is criticizing the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers' draft guidelines for domain registrars.

NSI is accusing ICANN of proposing a "heavy-handed, global regulatory administration and corresponding bureaucracy never envisioned in any of the multi-year public policy debate that has preceded the release of this draft."

NSI said ICANN's regulatory plans go against the cooperative nature of the Internet and put too much power in the hands of one body. NSI also believes most of ICANN's guidelines violate the spirit of the agreement between that body and the U.S. Commerce Department.

"The proposed regulatory administration is wholly at odds with the historically distributed, cooperative basis for the Internet," NSI said.

"Moving forward with this proposal would do irreparable harm to the Internet's dynamics, evolution, and stability--which have been well-maintained without the kind of Internet global regulation being suggested. It would be the worst of all worlds--a government-sponsored, unaccountable private global regulatory regime, controlling and constantly reviewing detailed aspects of every DNS registration provider's business.

"It proposes exactly the kind of regulatory threat to the Internet that the Clinton Administration and US Congress has pledged to avoid," NSI added.

NSI also said ICANN is going against the wishes of the Clinton administration and the Internet community--both of which have repeatedly said they favor a market-based approach. NSI said ICANN's proposals would amount to "stifling market innovation through regulation."

In early February, ICANN released a preliminary list of qualifications domain registrars must meet. Under the interim guidelines, registrars must demonstrate they have the basic capabilities to perform the obligations, they must not have been disqualified for past violation of ICANN standards, must abide by the code of conduct for DNS registrars, provide procedures to allow an applicant's customers to change registrars without interruption of domain service, maintain necessary working capital and hold a second or third-level domain.

ICANN is also considering a requirement for registrars to secure $500,000 in general liability insurance coverage. However, that amount could vary depending on the registrar's location.

In its statement, Network Solutions said ICANN's initial approach does not adequately address the growth of the Internet and electronic commerce.

"It is regulatory in nature and impairs free market competition. We tried to be as concrete and constructive as possible in our comments--with a view to showing specific alternative approaches that could work well to assure stable operations, robust competition and consensus-based, bottom-up policy development," said Donald N. Telage, NSI's senior vice president.

Telage said NSI is prepared to compete with qualified registrars and assure fair and open competition in the domain registration market.

ICANN officials could not be reached for comment. ICANN's board will meet Wednesday in Singapore. Items on the agenda include supporting organization proposals, discussion of policies and procedures and conflict of interest policies.