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ICANN 'disappointed' in VeriSign

The nonprofit organization raps the company for its lawsuit, saying it has chosen "confrontation over consensus."

The nonprofit organization with the task of overseeing the core function of the Internet said on Friday that it was "disappointed" by a lawsuit filed by VeriSign, which operates the master database for .com and .net.

Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign on Thursday sued the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in federal court in Los Angeles, claiming it was unlawfully prevented from adding new features to the domain name database it has a contract to run. Last fall, ICANN ordered VeriSign to halt its Site Finder service, which redirected nonexistent domain names to the company's Web site and caused problems for some network administrators.

"ICANN has worked closely with VeriSign and the other registries for the past several years," the nonprofit group said in a statement Friday. "Therefore, ICANN is disappointed that VeriSign has again chosen confrontation over consensus."

VeriSign's lawsuit was filed just three days before the start of ICANN's meeting in Rome, which begins Sunday. It claims that ICANN has transformed itself over the last six years from a modest technical coordinating body into the "de facto regulator of the domain name system" and alleges breach of contract and antitrust violations. The lawsuit asks for an injunction against ICANN.

"We have still to receive any information saying that Site Finder was going to be a threat to the stability or security of the Internet," Tom Galvin, VeriSign's vice president for government relations, said Thursday. Galvin said that the two organizations had been butting heads for years, and VeriSign eventually "realized our best option was to try to get some sort of clarity in the legal sense."

The lawsuit comes as ICANN's control of Internet addresses and domain names--it is tasked with adding new ones such as .museum and .biz--is being challenged. On Thursday, the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union held a "workshop on Internet governance" in Geneva.