Trade in registration services for generic domain names (e.g. those ending in .com, .net or .org) is controlled by an incorporated private industry body in the United States (ICANN) which also operates an office in Belgium.
ICANN sets minimum wholesale prices for domain name registration and awards the right to run Internet generic domain registries which offer services within the Single Market as well as globally. ICANN collects a levy on every generic domain name that is registered worldwide, including all such registrations for companies, organisations and consumers throughout the Member States and the European Economic Area.
ICANN has recently entered into a number of arrangements with other undertakings, including one with the largest domain name registry company (Verisign), to which ICANN has granted the exclusive right to the .com and .net name registries in return for a levy on the end to the consumer, which bears no relation to the cost of providing the service, and which levy has resulted in price hikes to European consumers.
Has the Commission received any complaints from European citizens or businesses, and, in any event, will the Commission investigate whether the arrangements between ICANN, Verisign, and European domain name registrar companies are subject to Art 81 and/or Art. 82 of the Treaties ?
(EN) The Commission thanks the Honourable Member for the information he has provided.
The Commission has also been contacted by undertakings raising concerns about the ".com" registry agreement entered into between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) and VeriSign.
At present, the information in the Commission's possession is not sufficient to allow it to conclude whether there are grounds to open an investigation relating to possible infringements of the EC competition rules.