News of the U.S. Department of Commerces approval Nov. 30 of the deal between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and VeriSign was met with both jubilation and disdain by those in the computer industry.
The deal will allow the agreement between ICANN, the non-profit company that oversees the Internets technical infrastructure, and VeriSign to go forward, and gives VeriSign control over the dot-com top level domain until 2012.
VeriSign has operated the dot-com registry since 1999 under a contract granted by ICANN. Though ICANN is a California-based non-profit company, some of its decisions, such as the awarding of major contracts, require federal approval.
"[The DOC is] respecting ICANNs authority and the contract it has made," said Steve DelBianco, executive director of the Netchoice Coalition. Netchoice is a collection of trade associations and e-commerce businesses, and has come out in support of the agreement.
DelBianco said the DOC approval illustrates the governments commitment to transitioning ICANN into an independent body during the next three years, which DOC officials have announced is their intent.
But not everyone is pleased. The approval comes even though domain-name registrars such as Network Solutions have publicly criticized ICANN for security lapses and other issues.
"Network Solutions is disappointed that in the face of widespread opposition, the Commerce Department approved an agreement between ICANN and VeriSign, renewing VeriSigns contract to operate the .com registry," said Jon Nevett, the companys vice president of policy, in a prepared statement.
"Unfortunately, the Commerce Department has endorsed an agreement that creates a perpetual de facto monopoly, fails to provide sufficient checks and balances through competition and adequate oversight, and is fundamentally flawed from a national cyber-security perspective."
DelBianco said, however, that complaints from the registrars are self-serving, adding the agreement gives ICANN the new resources it needs to implement important technologies such as domain name system security extensions.
The approval comes more than a year after VeriSign reached an initial deal with ICANN to maintain control of the dot-com domain until 2012 in return for dropping an antitrust lawsuit against the non-profit.