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Internet

VeriSign may lose dibs on domain sales

ICANN threatens to pull the domain name company's contract to sell Web addresses unless it maintains more accurate records of its customers.

The Internet's governing body has threatened to pull VeriSign's contract to sell Web addresses unless the domain name company maintains more accurate records of its customers.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on Tuesday accused VeriSign of breaching its contract because it failed to correct inaccurate customer information in a timely fashion.

At issue is the Whois database, which contains personal contact information of people who register Web sites. ICANN cited 17 specific violations over the past 18 months that have yet to be corrected, including one customer who registered a domain name using the fictitious name of "Toto" with the fake address of "Yellow Brick Road" in "Oz, Kansas." ICANN is giving VeriSign 15 days to correct the problems or face the prospect of losing its ability to sell domain names.

A VeriSign spokesman said the company will resolve the issue within a week.

"Out of 10.3 million records, they pulled out 17 of these that have inaccurate data on it," said VeriSign spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy. "That doesn't diminish the fact that VeriSign sees this as an important issue, but 17 names out of 10.3 million would hardly be considered a pattern."

Of the 150 domain name companies, VeriSign is the most popular, registering .com, .net and .org domain names. ICANN is a nonprofit organization formed in 1998 to allow more competition in the domain-naming business. The organization has a contract with the U.S. government to approve Web domain names, such as those ending in .info and .biz, and oversees policies to allow smaller companies to sell domain names.

"VeriSign Registrar appears frequently to publish incomplete Whois data and to routinely ignore reports of inaccurate and incomplete contact data in its Whois database," Louis Touton, ICANN's vice president and general counsel, wrote in a letter to VeriSign executives on Tuesday.

ICANN said VeriSign's violations include ignoring repeated requests to correct customer information for Dundjerski.com, in which the administrative contact was, "OOO Blank St., No City, XX 0000" with a phone number of "123-123-1234."