Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
These days, it seems that you can make something a truth by just repeating it over and over.
I was reminded of this last week when ICANN CEO Göran Marby published a blog post about .com prices. In the post titled “.COM Public Comments and Facts,” Marby repeats a mantra that ICANN has started using over the past year:
“ICANN is not a price regulator.”
ICANN seems to believe that if it just says it’s not a price regulator, then it’s not a price regulator. But this begs the question, when did it stop being a price regulator?
ICANN has been a price regulator for as long as I’ve covered it. It has regulated prices on may legacy top level domains and still governs the price of at least one of them.
The first inkling of not wanting to be a price regulator popped up in the new top level domain name round. ICANN didn’t impose any price caps on new top level domain operators. But it still had price caps in place on legacy domains.
Then, last year, it abandoned price regulation on .org, .biz and .info. Why? Because, apparently, it’s “not a price regulator.”
Which brings us to now. ICANN says it’s not a price regulator and defers to the U.S. government on .com pricing. Yet it still regulates the price for .net domain names.
That will undoubtedly change soon.
So if ICANN isn’t a price regulator, it needs to explain why it was a price regulator. A trickier question might be, “Why do you still regulate the price of .net if you aren’t a price regulator?”
ICANN could have avoided needing to artificially set price caps if it would have periodically put contracts to run legacy top level domains out to bid. Presumably, registry contracts that are in the best interests of the internet community would have factored price and stability/quality into the picture. Rival registries would certainly charge a lot less than ICANN’s current and recent price caps.
For importantly, who decided that ICANN shouldn’t regulate registry prices? The registries? ICANN staff? It certainly wasn’t a bottom-up decision-making process.