Adkinson Calls for Ending Economic Regulation of Domain Name System
WASHINGTON, D.C. -Should the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) be allowed to impose traditional economic regulation on the market for domain names? The Progress and Freedom Foundation’s William F. Adkinson, Jr. says it should not, and he believes the Department of Commerce should prohibit such activity if the agency decides to renew ICANN’s contract, which ends this month. While he does not address whether the contract should be renewed, Adkinson argues that ICANN or its successor should not be allowed to impose price or service restrictions.
“The Commerce Department and ICANN have been successful in developing workably competitive markets for registry and registrar services,” Adkinson writes in a study, “Domain Name Services: Let Competition, Not ICANN, Rule,” released today. “Therefore the time has come to end price and service regulation of these markets and terminate ‘mission creep’.” In fact, he argues, “such regulation interferes with the efficient operation of the competitive markets that have developed” and would be unwise, given ICANN’s “serious governance problems”.
According to Adkinson, the proliferation of firms authorized to provide registrar services, the greatly reduced price for registering names, the creation of seven new generic top level domains (TLDs) and growth among 240 country code TLDs and other factors have resulted in “widespread and multifaceted competition” and innovation. Moreover, Adkinson writes that ICANN is “particularly ill-suited” to regulate, “lacks adequate standards governing its decisions” and does not have authority over country code TLDs. The last point, he says, creates an unfair disadvantage.
Finally, there is critically important work to be done in the areas within ICANN’s proper sphere of activity – for example, ensuring the security of the root server system – that Adkinson says ICANN or a successor “should be required to focus its energies” there.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.