The U.S. Commerce Department decided to take away the contract for managing .edu names from VeriSign and award it to Educause, an educational technology consortium whose membership includes more than 1,800 colleges. The deal was apparently done last week, but the media didn't pick up on it until Educause issued a press release. Much of the coverage quoted spokespersons from Educause, VeriSign or some random university. All such folks say the new arrangement is just peachy.
Nonetheless, it occurred to NewsFactor's Rebecca Sausner to look into the minutes of recent meetings of the Educause board of directors, where she discovered - a smoking gun? Well, perhaps not, but she did find a curious angle. It seems Educause is considering not running the database of .edu domains itself, but contracting the work back to Verisign. Sausner reported that Educause's board was aware of the possible sensitivity of such a move, quoting from the minutes: "It is perceived that it is important for Educause to be the 'front door.'"
Several of the stories mentioned that the idea of transferring .edu to Educause - or its predecessor organization, EDUcom - had been under discussion for several years, but no one speculated about why the deal closed now. For insight we have to turn to University of Miami law professor Michael Froomkin, writing on the site of watchdog group ICANNwatch. Froomkin noted that the outgoing CEO of ICANN - which is not otherwise involved in running .edu - is Michael Roberts, formerly of Educause. Froomkin also editorialized on the precedent set by the .edu deal. He noted that the Commerce Department picked Educause without any open competition or bidding - a process that doesn't bode well for the handling of new domains coming this summer from ICANN.
Educause Will Move Fast New .edu Rules
Educause to Take Control of .edu Registry
Education Group Grabs Control of .edu
Higher Ed Now Controls .edu (AP)
Education Moves Into Its Own Domain (Reuters)
Commerce Department to Transfer Control of .edu Internet Domains
Wall Street Journal
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Educators to Control .edu Suffix
Commerce Dept. Redelegates .edu Domain
Notice of a Cooperative Agreement with Educause for Management of .edu Domain Name Space
National Telecommunications and Information Administration