In February of this year, as part of a settlement of litigation between VeriSign and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) relating to VeriSign's operation of the .com top level domain (TLD) registry, ICANN's Board of Directors narrowly approved changes to the .com registry agreement and submitted them to the Commerce Department for required review and approval. Concerns have been raised about potentially anticompetitive elements of this proposed agreement and its potential for creating a perpetual and unregulated monopoly over the single most valuable asset on the Internet - the .com domain name registry.  These anti-competitive concerns are all the more alarming because .com makes up about 75 percent of domain name registrations in the United States and a significant percentage globally.  Under the terms of the proposed agreement, control of the .com registry would be handed to one company, VeriSign, without any reasonable opportunity for rebidding the contract in the future and without effective limits on the maximum prices charged for .com registrations.  It appears that these provisions would foreclose competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.

Last week I joined with Congressmen Cannon, Bachus and Inglis in calling on House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Chairman Smith to hold hearings on this matter.  Hearings would allow Members of the Subcommittee to examine the implications and timing of the proposal and ensure that the goals  of competition, consumer choice and innovation that both the Commerce Department and ICANN are obligated to promote are not thwarted.