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DIDP Request #20 - Is Presumptive Renewal of Verisign’s Contracts a Good Thing?

Posted by Asvatha Babu at Jul 30, 2016 02:01 AM |
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ICANN’s contract agreements with different registries contain a presumptive renewal clause. Unless they voluntarily give up their rights or there is a material breach by the registry operator, their contract with ICANN will be automatically renewed.

See the base registry agreement here.

In light of this, we filed a request asking ICANN for documents that discuss the rationale behind including the presumptive renewal clause. We also asked them for documents specific to the renewal of Verisign (.com and .net domains) and PIR (.org) contracts. The request filed by Padmini Baruah can be found here.

What ICANN said

ICANN provided a surprisingly comprehensive response to our request. They provided documents in response to our request and stated the rationale that has been given for including a presumptive renewal clause. According to the response,

“Absent countervailing reasons, there is little public benefit, and some significant potential for disruption, in regular changes of a registry operator. In addition, a significant chance of losing the right to operate the registry after a short period creates adverse incentives to favor short term gain over long term investment.”

ICANN explains that the contracts have been drawn such that they balance the concerns above with the ability to replace a registry that doesn’t serve the community as it is obliged to do. The response also offers links to various documents substantiating this rationale.

We were provided an effective answer to our second question as well. ICANN’s response links us to various documents for the 2001, 2006 and 2012 renewals of Verisign’s contract for the .com domain. This includes a summary of the 2012 renewal, public comments for all three renewals and the proposed agreements.

For the .net domain, a presumptive renewal clause was not included in the 2001 Verisign contract which opened up the process to select an operator in 2005. ICANN chose to continue its relationship with Verisign and included the clause. The documents relevant to the 2011 renewal of the contracts have been provided.

After Verisign relinquished its rights over the .org domain in 2001, ICANN chose the Public Internet Society (PIR) to operate the domain.  While there was no presumptive renewal clause in 2002, documents relevant to the 2006 and 2013 renewals have been provided.

ICANN's response to our DIDP request may be found here.

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Asvatha Babu

Asvatha Babu is a Master’s candidate in the International Communication program at American University's School of International Service in Washington D.C. Her research interests include using ICTs for inclusive development, internet governance and cyber security. Thus far, her work with CIS has dealt specifically with ICANN’s transparency and accountability policies. She tweets about tech and feminism at @fireflyclass.