NTIA and DOJ Must Break VeriSign’s Monopoly Power Over Domain Names, Advocates Urge

June 27, 2024 Press Release

Washington, D.C. — The American Economic Liberties Project and a coalition of allies yesterday sent two separate letters to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Department of Justice (DOJ), respectively, urging them to end VeriSign Inc.’s government-designated monopoly over domain registration before an August 2nd deadline to stop the automatic renewal of VeriSign’s no-bid contract. VeriSign’s monopoly is responsible for rising costs of the most coveted website domains.

The letter to the NTIA urges the agency not to renew its contract with Verisign—which has a monopoly over core internet domain names including “.com,” which remains by far the most popular and most trusted domain name for businesses—open up a fair bidding process, and implement a price cap. The letter to the DOJ urges the agency to withdraw 2018 interagency guidance that enabled the Trump administration’s NTIA to remove contractual protections against price-gouging, and to examine VeriSign’s kickback arrangement with ICANN as a possible violation of antitrust laws.

“VeriSign is a prime example of an economic termite, and has used its government-approved monopoly over domains to hike prices with no justification for far too long,” said Laurel Kilgour, Research Manager at the American Economic Liberties Project. “Thanks to its exclusive agreement with the NTIA, VeriSign has made a habit of paying kickbacks to ICANN in order to preserve its monopoly power and hike costs by 70% in the past two decades. Given the essential role of websites in today’s economy, domain name management should be opened up to a competitive bidding process and have reasonable guardrails to protect consumers. The NTIA can stop this blatant exploitation right now by scrapping VeriSign’s contract, and the DOJ should start an investigation to examine VeriSign’s relationship with ICANN for antitrust violations.”

As the letters, also signed by Demand Progress Education Fund and Revolving Door Project, make clear, government contracts concerning basic internet infrastructure should be awarded through open, competitive bidding processes, and should include reasonable guardrails to protect consumers and prevent price-gouging.

Read the letter to the NTIA here.

Read the letter to the DOJ here

Learn more about Economic Liberties here.


The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.