New proposals would let governments seize domain names by Didi Rankovic

Two US organizations – a non-profit and a corporation – are planning to “quietly” give governments around the world the right to seize domain names by means of canceling, redirecting, or transferring control.

This is based on the “Proposed Renewal of the Registry Agreement for .NET” – recently published by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and Verisign.

Verisign is in charge of operating .COM and .NET TLDs (top-level domains, and while what critically-minded observers say the controversial paper now aims to change relates only to the .NET domain names, the fear is that the world is in for a slippery slope, that could eventually – as it comes up on the agenda of contract renewal – affect .COM the same way.

The item, blasted as “dangerous and outrageous,” is “hidden” in the appending of the registry agreement proposal – specifically in Section 2.7 of Appendix 8.

If accepted, this would let Verisign – which has been described as an “abusive monopolist” by some – to deny, cancel, redirect, or transfer registration or transaction, or put any domain name on registry lock or hold it in another manner – and all this “as it deems necessary, in its unlimited and sole discretion.”

In the same section of the proposal, the circumstances under which Verisign would be able to exercise these powers have new items added to the existing three that are not considered controversial.

The 4th is security-related (in a way that fears are, could be abused by Verisign), but then there’s item No. 5, which states that the operator of .NET domains can deny, cancel, etc., to comply with a law, government rules, but also “pursuant to any legal order or subpoena of any government, administrative or governmental authority, or court of competent jurisdiction.”

Because these entities are operating the world’s TLDs, saying that “any” government and “any authority” – administrative or governmental, as well as associated courts, could make use of this new rule – means just that – ANY.

The ones you like, the ones you don’t like, the ones you support, the ones who will transform from good to evil, or the other way around – and at any level – city, local, state, country.

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