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Coalition Urges End to VeriSign’s Domain Monopoly Before August 2nd Deadline

 |  June 30, 2024

The American Economic Liberties Project, alongside a coalition of allied organizations, has made a significant move to end VeriSign Inc.’s longstanding monopoly over domain registration. Yesterday, they submitted two urgent letters, one to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and another to the Department of Justice (DOJ), calling for action before the critical August 2nd deadline to halt the automatic renewal of VeriSign’s no-bid contract.

The coalition’s letter to the NTIA implores the agency to not renew VeriSign’s contract, which grants the company monopoly control over core internet domain names, most notably “.com.” This domain remains the most popular and trusted for businesses globally. The coalition argues for the introduction of a fair bidding process and the implementation of price caps to prevent undue cost increases.

In the letter to the DOJ, the coalition requests the withdrawal of the 2018 interagency guidance that allowed the Trump administration’s NTIA to remove contractual protections against price-gouging. Furthermore, they call for an investigation into VeriSign’s financial relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), suggesting it could constitute a violation of antitrust laws.

“VeriSign is a prime example of an economic termite, and has used its government-approved monopoly over domains to hike prices with no justification for far too long,” stated Laurel Kilgour, Research Manager at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Thanks to its exclusive agreement with the NTIA, VeriSign has made a habit of paying kickbacks to ICANN in order to preserve its monopoly power and hike costs by 70% in the past two decades. Given the essential role of websites in today’s economy, domain name management should be opened up to a competitive bidding process and have reasonable guardrails to protect consumers. The NTIA can stop this blatant exploitation right now by scrapping VeriSign’s contract, and the DOJ should start an investigation to examine VeriSign’s relationship with ICANN for antitrust violations.”

The letters, co-signed by Demand Progress Education Fund and the Revolving Door Project, underscore the importance of awarding government contracts for essential internet infrastructure through open, competitive bidding processes. They emphasize that such contracts must include protections to safeguard consumers from price-gouging.

Source: Economic Liberties