The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has announced a draft settlement with VeriSign over issues relating to a service which Icann made VeriSign close down shortly after launch.
The dispute relates to Site Finder, a service VeriSign created in late 2003 for guiding internet users who mistype web addresses.
Critics said that the service interfered with spam filters and other key internet tools, and said it gave VeriSign an unfair competitive advantage in search.
VeriSign had the ability to offer the service partly because it controls the computers that contain the master list of domain name suffixes.
It also runs the core directories responsible for routing email, web and other traffic for the two most popular suffixes, .com and .net.
VeriSign sued Icann claiming that it had impeded VeriSign's efforts to offer moneymaking services.
Icann is now sending the proposed settlement to the internet community for public comment. It includes revising the definition of 'registry service' so that Site Finder is clearly covered and thus requires prior Icann approval.
The proposed settlement also establishes a formal review process for services such as Site Finder, and gives Icann 90 days to address any security, stability and competitive concerns.
Full agreement is a cumbersome process. It needs approval from the board of both Icann and VeriSign along with the Commerce Department, which oversees Icann.
Icann said in a statement that the settlement is "intended to balance innovation and business certainty with the need to ensure competition, security and stability in the domain name system".
The procedure will be closely monitored in the light of current global dis cussions over the future governance of the internet.
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