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CONTACT: David Fish
August 30, 2004
(202) 289-8928

State Court Should Curb ICANN's Excesses
Adkinson: VeriSign Case Strong Even Minus Antitrust Claim

WASHINGTON D.C. - VeriSign's case that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is overreaching its bounds remains strong, despite a federal district court's ruling Thursday that ICANN's behavior did not amount to an antitrust violation, according to a legal expert. The expert, who has written widely on the subject, says Judge A. Howard Matz's transfer of the remaining elements of VeriSign's case to a California state court may offer a better means of curbing ICANN's regulatory excesses.

"As VeriSign's complaint and numerous critiques of ICANN confirm, ICANN is out of control," blogs Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Policy Counsel William F. Adkinson, Jr. "It was created to promote competition in DNS services, given a very narrow regulatory mandate, and directed to meet basic standards of fair and open decision-making. It has adopted an increasingly expansive view of its regulatory mandate while providing virtually no procedural protections to affected parties."

Admitting that an antitrust claim is "a blunt instrument for reining in ICANN's regulatory process," Adkinson maintains that Matz's decision takes a "rather narrow light of the specific evidence of competitors' key roles in ICANN's decisions, and even a statement by former ICANN president Stuart Lynn that ICANN's process was 'too exposed to capture by special interests.'" Nonetheless, Adkinson writes "Judge Matz's decision leaves VeriSign free to enforce ICANN's obligations under the Registry Agreement" which "contains provisions designed to prevent regulatory abuse." Adkinson concludes that "ICANN should be strictly held to the letter and spirit of these protections."

In "New Domain Name Services: Should ICANN or Competition Govern?" Adkinson focuses on ICANN's deficiencies as a regulator and its power to stifle innovation. He argued it must "narrow its focus" to "core DNS missions" where it has a "clear mandate and the ability to improve the functioning of the DNS system." Adkinson says those missions include governance of technical issues and fostering the transition to competition. He argued that "reliance on competitive forces in the domain name system (DNS) service markets promote consumer welfare and innovation better than regulation by ICANN."

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.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation