ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, entered into the .com Registry Agreement between themselves and Verisign in 2006. This allowed Verisign to operate the .com top-level domain for a number of years. If allowed to go forward, Versign would be in charge of .com domains once again for years to come.
In the spirit of transparency, ICANN is inviting the public to submit their thoughts on the renewal of the .com agreement. The current agreement will end on November 30 of this year, so they ask that all comments be submitted before April 26.
The major changes between the 2006 agreement and the proposed agreement for 2012 is a pretty hefty list. There's a lot here, but it's more important to read it yourself and form an opinion on it.
Changes to Modernize the 2006 Agreement
1.1. Functional and Performance Specifications revised to:
1.1.1. Require support for IPv6: registry operator will accept IPv6 addresses as glue where applicable, and will offer IPv6 access to the Shared Registration System (e.g., EPP), Whois, and DNS servers.
1.1.2. Require removal of orphan glue records in connection with malicious conduct: consistent with advice from ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee, registry operator will remove a orphan glue records so they can't be used to support malicious conduct.
1.1.3. Require support for DNSSEC: registry operator will implement Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) to sign its TLD zone files and accept public-key material from child domain names in a secure manner; providing the ability to authenticate the data published in the DNS.
1.1.4. Require publication of registry abuse contact information: registry operator will provide its accurate contact details including a valid email and mailing address as well as a primary contact for handling inquiries related to malicious conduct in the TLD.
1.1.5. Require the parties to periodically negotiate in good faith regarding implementation of new escrow, Whois and technical specifications: registry operator and ICANN agree to engage in good faith negotiations, at least once every eighteen months, regarding possible implementation of new RFCs related to Data Escrow, Whois, and other Technical and Functional Specifications.
1.1.6. Require compliance with IDNA and IDN guidelines: registry operator will comply with the latest technical standards regarding Internationalized Domain Names, follow the ICANN IDN implementation guidelines, and publish its IDN tables with IANA.
1.1.7. Allow ICANN to use multiple monitoring locations for DNS and to monitor TCP queries: allows ICANN to implement a new Service Level Agreement monitoring system (also to be used for new gTLDs) to monitor DNS service from registry operator.
1.2. Whois: added a provision (in Appendix 5) requiring adoption of a replacement of the WHOIS protocol, if and when it is standardized in the IETF. It is expected that this new protocol will support internationalized domain names and data, standardized query, response, and error handling, etc.
1.3. Monthly Reports Specification: revised monthly report format (Appendix 4) to include more data.
1.4. Audit: added provision giving ICANN broad contractual audit rights to facilitate contractual compliance efforts.
Changes to Align with Other Large Registry Agreements
2.1. Service Level Agreement: enhance performance specification, comparable to the performance specifications required in the .net registry agreement
2.2. Threats to Security and Stability: added new provision that would allow the registry operator to temporarily prevent the registration of one or more names in the TLD in order to respond to an imminent threat to the security and/or stability of the TLD or the Internet.
2.3. Use of Traffic Data: clarified that the use of traffic data would be limited to "thin" registry model data even if registry were to follow the "thick" registry model.
2.4. Prohibition on Universal Wildcard Functions: clarification that prohibition on "SiteFinder" or other universal wildcard functions does not prohibit provision of name service or any other non-registry service for a domain or zone used for other than registration services.
2.5. Indemnification of ICANN: added broad indemnification rights in favor of ICANN.
3.1. Registry Fees: replaced lump sum quarterly fee with a fee based on $0.25 per transaction in the TLD. This is a substantial increase in Verisign's contribution.
3.2. Cooperation with Compliance Actions Against Registrars: added a provision requiring the registry operator to implement ICANN ordered registrar suspensions to facilitate ICANN's contractual compliance efforts.
3.3. Price Caps: no substantive changes to price cap and price increase provision; agreement updated to reflect the current fee cap of $7.85.
You can read the entire proposed 2012 agreement here. This is important stuff, so become informed and let ICANN know what you think. This is your chance to have a voice in regards to how the Internet works.