US Government Renews Verisign’s Monopoly on ‘.Com’ Domains

22 May 2001

The Bush administration has granted a renewed monopoly on the allocation of global ‘.com’ and ‘.net’ internet suffixes to California-based domain registrar Verisign . The company, which charges $6 for each registration, accounts for around 50% of all web registrations worldwide.

However, mindful of the US Justice Department’s concern at the market dominance of Verisign, which has held the domain allocation contract since 1992, the government has withdrawn the company’s right to sell the ‘.org’ domain. Instead, from 2002, this will be granted to a non-profit organization along with a subsidy of $5 million

The government itself was not party to the negotiations earlier this year between Verisign and the non-commercial Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [WAMN: 05-Mar-01], although the Commerce Department retains the right to veto any deal of which it disapproves.

Its approval of the deal, insists the Commerce Department, does not imply immunity from antitrust suits – the sole crumb of comfort according to Verisign’s rivals.

Groaned president of Larry Elrich: "I thought it would be a rubber-stamp, but it looks like it was slightly less than rubber-stamp. The only ray of hope is the fact that they agreed that they don't have the immunity to antitrust.”

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)