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ICANN Decides on .COM Amendment and Proposed Binding Letter of Intent between ICANN and Verisign

27 March 2020
By Göran Marby

With more than 145 million domains in the .COM registry, the .COM Registry Agreement (RA) is one of the most important contracts under ICANN's responsibility. Amendments to this Registry Agreement are carefully assessed and only approved after thorough analysis. This is not a one-input decision, but one based on ongoing feedback from the Internet community and in close consultation with the ICANN Board of Directors.

With that in mind, ICANN organization thoughtfully and thoroughly evaluated proposed Amendment 3 to the .COM RA and the proposed binding Letter of Intent, and consulted with the ICANN Board prior to negotiating and prior to completing the negotiations with Verisign. We also took public comments into consideration.

Representing ICANN org as President & CEO, I have decided to execute the amendment of the .COM Registry Agreement and the proposed binding Letter of Intent. I believe this decision is in the best interest of the continued security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet. The complete decision paper, which expands upon the information used to make the decision is available here.

Overall, the decision to execute the .COM Registry Agreement amendment and the proposed binding Letter of Intent is of benefit to the Internet community.

For example, the terms of the Registry Agreement technical specifications will more closely align with those in the Base gTLD Registry Agreement. These include a requirement for Verisign to add Domain Name System (DNS) anti-abuse measures to the domain – one of the most discussed topics within the ICANN community for years. Specifically, Verisign must now require its accredited registrars to include provisions prohibiting domains from being used to perpetrate DNS security threats in the registration agreements. Verisign must also conduct scans of its zone to identify domains being used to perpetrate DNS security threats at least once per month.

The proposed binding Letter of Intent also provides that Verisign will contribute US$20 million over five years, beginning on 1 January 2021, to support ICANN's initiatives to preserve and enhance the security, stability, and resiliency of the DNS. This includes activities related to root server system governance, mitigation of DNS security threats, promotion and/or facilitation of Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) deployment, the mitigation of name collisions, and research into the operation of the DNS. ICANN org recognizes the request for accountability and transparency regarding how the funds are used and is committed to full transparency to provide the ICANN community the appropriate level of detail when available.

I also want to take this opportunity to clarify ICANN's role with respect to wholesale pricing of top-level domains. Let me be clear, ICANN org is not a competition authority or price regulator.

We have long-deferred to the U.S. Government Department of Commerce (DOC) and Department of Justice for the regulation of pricing for .COM registry services, as per the Cooperative Agreement between Verisign and the DOC. That hasn't changed. Verisign continues to be required to provide at least six months' notice to registrars of any .COM wholesale price increase. This allows registrars, on behalf of registrant customers, to register or renew .COM domain names during the notice period for up to a 10-year total registration term, at the then-current price, prior to any increase. This allows the ability to lock-in current wholesale prices for up to 10 years.

I encourage you to read the decision paper for additional information. Please stay safe and healthy in these uncertain times.


Göran Marby

Göran Marby

Former President & CEO