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25th June, 2003

With a global population of over 6 billion, ten generic top level domains, over 200 country codes and an Internet user community that numbers millions it is astounding that two US Congressmen believe it is exclusively their duty to table legislation that will require the Comptroller General "to conduct a study of the business practices, procedures and accountability and administration of ICANN and of the Internet domain name system and for other purposes" without recourse to the myriad of country code registries and international governments not to mention registrants and users all of whom will be affected by concomitant change. 

The annoyance is not necessarily with the purpose of the legislation but with the assumption that in spite of the fact that ICANN has global responsibility, effecting change in its policy is the prerogative of American representatives. In other words, when ICANN introduces revisals to its procedures only US-based opponents (or their friends) have the ability to make representation to Congress to seek the reversal of such decisions. 

So what is this legislation that causes the writer such angst. In effect, in November 2002, ICANN approved the introduction of a centralised and exclusive Wait List Service to be operated by VeriSign and made available through all registrars. 

Wait List Services are currently offered by a number of registrars to enable potential registrants the opportunity to "snatch" domain names as they expire. Under current arrangements success is dependent on the sophistication of a provider's technology. Under the new arrangements, only one registrant per domain will be in a position to make representation on VeriSign's WLS; accordingly, success will be assured (assuming the domain name duly expires) but is granted on a first come first served basis only. 

Opposed to this change in procedure, Dotster Inc of Vancouver, Washington approached ICANN's Reconsideration Committee to secure a temporary stay in the implementation of their WLS Proposal. Its reconsideration request argued that

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