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Verisign Internet monopoly alert! 


VeriSign is attempting to push through a proposal which will effectively see one company control .com and .net Internet domain names, despite huge opposition from everyone else in the market. 

Under its proposals, a new domain "wait listing service" (WLS) will be set up that supersedes all other domain renewal services and run by one company, SnapNames, with which Verisign has a close relationship. 

Under the plan, anyone will be able to pay SnapNames $35 to "reserve" a particular .com or .net domain name were it not to be renewed. VeriSign claims this will put an end to the race for domain names once they become available. 

While the idea appears reasonable at first glance, such a system immediately creates a monopoly in which the opportunities for abuse are enormous. Any domain not re-registered will fall under the control of SnapNames. It seems almost certain to favour domain registrars that it has close ties with. 

It can also charge whatever it likes for the service, since there will be no other route to getting hold of an expired domain. How VeriSign arrived at the figure of $35 is anyone's guess, especially since other companies have offered to run the system for $6 per domain. SnapNames has also told investors its revenues could increase by 700 per cent as a result of the deal. 

The fact that the $35 is non-refundable, even if the domain is re-registered, has led some critics to brand it a nothing but a tax. How the service would end up being marketed is anyone's guess. 

It may be helpful here to remind you it took years to wrestle the .com and .net domains out of VeriSign's hands - a move that resulted in the price of new domains plummeting as competition entered the market. And, that VeriSign is still under investigation for using underhand scare tactics to force people to renew domains with itself over competitors. 

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