ICANN and Antitrust

A. Michael Michael Froomkin, Mark A. Lemley
2001 Social Science Research Network  
The Internet's smooth functioning depends on the domain name system (DNS), which allows users to enter an address into their browser and be directed to the appropriate web site or e-mail recipient. In 1998, the Department of Commerce (DoC) delegated effective control over the DNS to a private, not-for-profit corporation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Various aspects of ICANN have been heavily criticized by commentators. In this article, Professors Froomkin and
more » ... essors Froomkin and Lemley address the previously neglected issue of whether ICANN and its policies violate U.S. antitrust law. Professors Froomkin and Lemley begin by analyzing whether ICANN would be immune from antitrust scrutiny under the state action doctrine. This would be unlikely, they conclude, because there has been no clear articulation of policy nor active supervision by the government. The authors then consider the merits of four potential antitrust challenges: that the DNS and top level domains such as .com are essential facilities to which ICANN must give open access; that ICANN's refusal to accredit registrars affiliated with alternative roots is an act of monopolization; that ICANN's requirement that registrars adhere to a uniform dispute resolution policy for trademark disputes is an illegal cartel; and that VeriSign's "Waiting List Service, " approved by ICANN, is an exclusive dealing arrangement with anticompetitive consequences. Additionally, since ICANN is not a government actor, the authors warn that those who lobby ICANN could also be liable for any antitrust law violations. Professors Froomkin and Lemley conclude that delegating extensive policy-making authority to ICANN without providing any t
doi:10.2139/ssrn.291221 fatcat:unmlk7mcj5h27fsozp4svc62ha