Letter from Paul Twomey to Chuck Gomes
4 September 2003
VIA E-MAIL AND U.S. MAILMr. Chuck Gomes
Vice President, Internet Relations and Compliance, Registry
21355 Ridgetop Circle
Dulles, Virginia 20166 USA
Re: Wait Listing Service
We understand you received notification of the ICANN Board's action on the Reconsideration Committee's recommendation concerning RC 02-6, relating to the Wait Listing Service ("WLS") proposed to be offered by VeriSign. Specifically, the Reconsideration Committee recommended, and the Board resolved that conditions (a) (the six-month delay) and (d) (registrant notification) regarding the WLS be adopted as originally resolved.
We understand that VeriSign has stated it intends to launch offering the WLS to the public in October 2003. We wish to reiterate, and reaffirm our mutual understanding, that the WLS may not be launched until 1) negotiations on conditions for offering the WLS are final and the contractual amendments to the .com and .net agreements effected and 2) in accordance with our Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Commerce, the Department of Commerce has approved the contractual amendments as required by Section 1 of the MoU, as amended. We note that information provided on the VeriSign registry website (see http://www.verisign.com/nds/naming/namestore/wls/) fails to mention that these outstanding requirements remain unsatisfied for the launch of the WLS. We believe statements omitting this information are misleading and ask you to identify when making public statements those further conditions to be satisfied before the WLS can be implemented.
Under condition (d), VeriSign has proposed the following, which is acceptable to ICANN:
Posting of a daily report to a registrar's ftp server listing WLS subscriptions received the previous calendar day (Eastern Time) for domain name registrations for which that registrar is the registrar of record;
Posting of a listing that will be updated at least weekly on the registrar restricted access portion of VeriSign's website showing registrars who have not agreed to notify registrants so that WLS registrars can fulfill the registrant notification responsibility; and
Providing the following recommended notification language to registrars, which the registrar of record or the WLS registrar would communicate to the current registrant: "This notice is to inform you that a Wait Listing Service (WLS) subscription has been placed on the domain name <insert domain name> registered with us. Should you choose not to renew your domain name registration with us, the domain name will be deleted and registered to the WLS subscriber."
The Reconsideration Committee recommended and the Board resolved that condition (c) (the registrar blackout) be revised through negotiations between us. Concerns have been voiced by various constituencies on the implementation and effect of such a registrar blackout. As a general matter of policy, ICANN recognizes the freedom of registries and others to develop new services. ICANN, however, also has a responsibility under its Bylaws and the MoU to promote and sustain a competitive environment. With this in mind, the Board has been concerned about the need to ensure that the operation of VeriSign's proposed WLS does not result in unintended opportunities for registrars to utilize inside, or not publicly available, information to attain an unfair market advantage. However, we understand and wish to address your concerns regarding regularity and predictability in offering the WLS. We believe that the following provisions would best meet these goals:
The addition of a provision to the registry-registrar agreement applicable to registrars for the .com and .net registries, providing for a serious penalty if a registrar is found to be using insider knowledge in the selling or marketing of WLS subscriptions. We would be glad to discuss with you the appropriate definition of "insider knowledge", as well as what constituted "use" of this knowledge;
As part of VeriSign's annual neutrality audit, the review of WLS subscription activity and VeriSign registry's monitoring and enforcement of the provision added to the registry-registrar agreement described above; and
A blackout period during which no registrar will be allowed to place a WLS subscription on a domain name for a period commencing 10 days prior to the scheduled expiration date for such domain name, and continuing for the duration of the auto-renew grace period lasting up to 45 days following the scheduled expiration date.
The conditions for offering the WLS outlined above will be reviewed by us together at the close of the twelve-month initial trial period, in conjunction with any discussions regarding an extension of the offering of the WLS.
Please contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss finalizing this matter.
President and CEO
cc: Kathy Smith, Esq.