Verisign-easter-egg-huntThe Wikipedia defines an Easter Egg as being “…a hidden message or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, or computer program.”

I think they should add “settlement agreements” to the list of places where Easter Eggs are hidden.

In preparing my overview of the puts and takes of the proposed Verisign/ICANN settlement agreements, I eventually made my way to Appendix 5 of the new Registry Operator Agreement that Verisign and the ICANN Staff want to implement as part of the settlement. This far into the agreement, I was expecting a fairly routine run down of Verisign’s obligations to provide Whois service and the standards it would employ in executing these functions.

What I got was distinctly different – there is an entire new set of obligations tacked onto the old 2001 language!Icann-pdp-us-legal-system These new clauses specify that Verisign will turn over the COM Whois file, in bulk, to a third party for the purpose of creating a centralized Whois that includes all TLD data.

excerpted from the Verisign/ICANN Settlement Agreement, Appendix 5; “Registry Operator shall provide bulk access to up-to-date data concerning domain name and nameserver registrations maintained by Registry Operator in connection with the Registry TLD on a daily schedule, only for purposes of providing free public query-based access to up-to-date data concerning domain name and nameserver registrations in multiple TLDs, to a party designated from time to time in writing by ICANN.”

The thing is, this is being implemented despite a clear and contrary mandate from the community that is backed up by the original ICANN/NSI Registry contract which explicitly states that such a centralized system would only be implemented “…if [the distributed Whois system] implemented by registrars on a distributed basis does not within a reasonable time provide reasonably robust, reliable and convenient access to accurate and up-to-date registration data”. It also goes on to say that the deployment of the centralized system would be undertaken pursuant to the establishment of Consensus Policy.

Will the ICANN GNSO Policy Development Process be replaced by a contractual negotiation process, or more simply become a process of appealing to the U.S. legal system? Or are we there already? 

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