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VeriSign Dot Net Contract Begins July 1

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Verisign Inc, a company that already exerts significant control over how people send e-mail and find Web sites, was selected this week to run the Internet's third-most popular suffix for six more years.

The Internet's key oversight board, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said Thursday it had renewed VeriSign's contract for ".net" after reviewing recommendations from an outside panel and comments from the Internet community.

The move was largely expected after Telcordia Technologies Inc., the outside firm selected to evaluate bids to operate ".net" directories, made VeriSign its top pick in March over four other bidders. Rivals complained that the evaluation process was flawed, but Telcordia again backed VeriSign in a revised report in May.

U.S. Commerce Department approval is also required -- and expected. The U.S. government, which funded much of the Internet's early development, had selected ICANN in 1998 to oversee Internet addressing policies but retains veto power.

Besides running ".com" and ".net," which together comprise more than half of all domain names registered, VeriSign controls the master directory that lists all of the Internet's suffixes, meaning all traffic touches the company's computers at one point or another.

As operator of ".net," VeriSign will have the technical ability -- though some question whether it has the legal authority -- to make sweeping policy changes.

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