U.S. Government would like Trusted Notifier programs for .Com.
Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a statement when it renewed its Cooperative Agreement with Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN). Here’s the second paragraph of the brief statement:
Amendment 35 confirms that Verisign will operate the .com registry in a content neutral manner with a commitment to participate in ICANN processes. To that end, NTIA looks forward to working with Verisign and other ICANN stakeholders in the coming year on trusted notifier programs to provide transparency and accountability in the .com top level domain.
These statements seem to contradict each other. The first statement says that Verisign won’t get involved with what content is on .com domains. That’s the status quo. The second is about so-called Trusted Notifier programs in which certain “trusted” groups can make complaints about content that the registry will take seriously. An example is the program the Motion Picture Association of America has with Donuts.
It’s possible this paragraph was inserted in the statement to appease certain groups. The first statement would appease Ted Cruz, who was concerned that the NTIA ending its IANA contract with ICANN would lead to China and Russia having their way with the internet. (That hasn’t happened.) The second statement would appease intellectual property interests.
The statement makes it clear that the U.S. would like to engage with the ICANN community on Trusted Notifer programs, but ultimately it’s just one voice in the conversation. I would think that Verisign wants to avoid any such programs because, as the first sentence of the paragraph notes, Verisign has never been involved with the content side of what’s hosted on .com domains. That falls to UDRP, the courts and the registrars. Verisign leaves the resolution to other parties, and only transfers a domain when ordered to do so by a court.