WSJ: If The UN Gets Control Of ICANN Your Domain Registration Fees May Increase, A Lot

The Wall Street Journal just published a story by Karl Borden who is a professor of financial economics at the University of Nebraska who warns that if the US gives up its oversight control over ICANN and the United Nations winds up in that roll, expect that fees are going to be imposed on every domain registration to support not only ICANN but UN activities.

The professor cites “As far back as 2001, a U.N. report, “Financing the Global Sharing Economy,” proposed that the U.N. be given the authority to levy a tax on “speculative currency transactions” with a projected revenue stream north of $150 billion.”

“Should the U.N. get control of the Internet and the global commerce it carries, that figure will be chump change.”

“If history is any guide, the run-up to big dollars will be stunningly rapid. One need only reference the increases in U.S. federal revenues and expenditures after passage in 1913 of the 16th Amendment establishing the federal income tax. The top 1913 rate of 7% more than doubled by 1916 to 15%, then rocketed to 67% in 1917 and 77% in 1918. It always starts small.”

“Power follows the money, and bureaucratic appetites are voracious. Who will there be to stop the process, after all? Where is the elected legislative body that will answer to the world’s population that finally pays these “fees”?

“Among the many disingenuous justifications being touted for this colossal strategic mistake is that no “government control” will be imposed on the Internet. But democratic “government control” is exactly what will be needed, and it will be absent. Constitutional governments are the means by which citizens delegate the job of protecting their individual rights, and allow them to retain at least some ability to avoid tyranny. With constitutional government it becomes at least possible for citizens to say “No—No more!” No such checks are in place for a global bureaucracy that will have the power to reach into every pocket on earth.”

At the moment ICANN charges a fee of $.18 per domain for most TLD’s.

However the ICANN fee is one of things the US has oversight control of, including the awarding of the contract to operate the .com and .net registry which expires in 2018.

The professor’s argument and I think its a good one, is if the UN has control over ICANN that fee may not stay at $.18.

A less accountable, more politicized ICANN may place a “global development fee” on each domain name registration to fund  project investments in select nations and an expanded fellowship programs of $1 which as the good professor points out could grow over time to $5 or $10 a domain or more.

A global Internet tax?

Why not?


  1. BrianWick says

    where is that clause in the renewal contract – that even though you may have renewed this domain for 10 years “you might be retroactively charged a fee”.
    if not that clause wil certainly be added soon – yes ?

    certainly with the un – we are dealing with pure socialism and the guy that busts his ass and is creative get penalized.

  2. says

    This is laughable, and comes off sounding like an April Fools’ joke.

    Let’s get serious for a second. The UN doesn’t control jack sh!t, and will have zero effective control over the internet. All you have here is someone in the political world leaning on a biased publication to share a ‘what-if’ scenario.

    Further, the only people that will balk at a change to ICANN fees are people who register domains en masse. Larger corporations can handle it just fine, and most people will write it off as ‘the costs are going up anyway’ (New GTLD’s proving people will buy a name at a price much higher than a .com or .net). The people it may hurt are second- or third-world countries, where $1 might mean something.

    WSJ, get back to what you’re good at. Leave the websites and stuff invented after 1990 to people half your age.

  3. says

    Ah yes, if the UN tries to add on a fee it’s a bad thing. But when ICANN takes their fee it’s ok, or when Verisign locks in their no-bid perpetual contracts with annual fee hikes baked right in that’s just good ole fashioned Mom-and-Apple-Pie capitalism.

  4. BrianWick says

    Mark –
    “when Verisign locks in their no-bid perpetual contracts with annual fee hikes baked in”

    Names like these with deep experience and investment in the new registries might possibly surface when the .com Verisign contract comes up again – meaning your “Mom-And Apple Pie Capitalism” hopefully might just keep a lot of the yeast “baked” out
    Paul Stahura
    Frank Schilling
    Stuart Lawley

    I am told the Chinese use the same word for “opportunity” and “adversity” :)

  5. says

    Capitalism, is both an economic, and political system.

    Some nations at the UN are Monarchies. What happens if a King or Queen likes your domain name, or worse, don’t want an ‘insulting’ or ‘bad’ name registered? Or a sacrilegious name renewed?

    Freedom is not common. Everything about domain names is not about the money, or domaining. America, unfortunately, is the vanguard of freedom in the world today, perhaps forever. So, let America keep the dawn internet.

  6. John Berryhill says

    Oh good golly.

    What amazes me about some of the less rational views of this development, and this article certainly qualifies for that category, are that the exact same folks who day-in and day-out pointificate to the effect that the US government can’t manage anything at all, are suddenly appalled at the notion the US government might not be managing something.

Comment Policy: welcomes reader comments. Please follow these simple rules:

  • Stay on topic
  • Refrain from personal attacks
  • Avoid profanity
  • Links should be related to the topic of the post
  • No spamming. Listing domains, products, or services will get the comment deleted

We reserve the right to remove comments if we deem it necessary.

Join the Discussion