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VeriSign still needs ICANN

In response to the Perspective column written by Sonia Arrison "Why it's time to rein in ICANN":

Sonia Arrison has missed a very important point in the VeriSign/ICANN dispute. Consumers choose to use America Online, Google or MSN.

If I do not like the service, I can simply use a different search engine or sign up with a new Internet service provider. VeriSign, however, is altering domain name lookups at the root level. There is no way to opt out of its service.

As it stands now, the invisible hand that governs the marketplace does not get a vote in this issue, and I'm not sure why Arrison is so blithely suggesting that it does.

VeriSign has a monopoly over the .com and .net registries, and it did not implement Site Finder as a charitable gesture to the American public, despite the rosy glow Arrison would like to put on it. If the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers does not prevent VeriSign from usurping every unused .com and .net domain name for its own profit, certainly consumers are powerless to do so.

Arrison argues that Site Finder is a useful service, naively hand-waving away technical concerns about VeriSign's meddling with the Internet domain name service. Neither of these issues, however, is the main point: VeriSign has misused the authority that was placed in its hands.

Arrison states that the "best solution" is to "allow market forces to take over," but she is forgetting that the U.S. free market is safeguarded by rules and regulations that are enforced in the courts on a daily basis.

ICANN may not be perfect, but it provides an extremely important service. Maybe Arrison believes that the corporations running the domain name registries should just be trusted to act in the best interests of Internet users, but I emphatically do not.

Christina Jackson
Charlottesville, Va.