ICANN Claims VeriSign Against Free-Speech

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. – On Monday, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will file a motion designed to block Mountain View, Calif., based-VeriSign's antitrust lawsuit on the basis that the suit violates California's SLAPP law.

The SLAPP law, on the books since 1992, is a personal-liberties bulwark against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – intended to prevent powerful interests from squashing public discourse that might not be seen as favorable by the censoring interest. ICANN will contend the VeriSign suit is in violation of this law since it would limit the public debate over ICANN's continued role as the Internet's primary "regulatory" agency, in charge of domain names and naming conventions.

VeriSign's suit, filed this past February, is in fact over ICANN's assumed regulatory role, claiming that the body has exceeded its authority, and "become the de facto regulator of the domain-name system."

This latest motion is an addendum to a brief that XBiz reported on earlier, where ICANN asked a federal judge to dismiss VeriSign's suit on the grounds that a factual basis supporting its antitrust claims has not been presented.

The original lawsuit, which stems from a disagreement over VeriSign's SiteFinder redirection service, is an attempt at obtaining legal blessing to re-launch the service, which was suspended at ICANN's demand due to a claim that SiteFinder would have "a substantial adverse effect" on the stability of the Internet – a claim which VerisSign disputes, and furthermore, challenges ICANN's authority to regulate such service offerings.

While the filing of motions and other pre-trial posturing are typical defense maneuvers, it remains to be seen how impressed the judge will be by these latest allegations; especially when ICANN attempts to convince the court that VeriSign's suit is primarily intended to restrict the public discussion of their role in violation of the SLAPP law.