Internet overseeing organisation ICANN has imposed what amounts to a $2 tax on all new domains.
The organisation has just announced the launch of two new top-level domains (like .com or .org) in the form of .travel and .jobs, but the registry agreement reveals that it has put a $2 per transaction charge on every domain the companies sell or renew - in effect an internet tax.
The news will be greeted with some dismay by other internet companies, already smarting over ICANN's earlier plans to introduce just a 25-cent charge. It is now quite clear that ICANN's intention is to fund its ever-increasing and expensive costs with a flat-rate fee on all internet interactions.
In its Strategic Plan (which, interestingly, it has just revised and released for "public comment"), ICANN annoyed registrars by saying it would stick a 25-cent transaction charge on domain changes and sales. It even annoyed the country code registrars (like .uk for the UK, or .de for Germany) despite offering a lower 20-cent rate.
Then, at the end of the year, it became clear that the renewal of the .net registry (which ICANN starts negotiations with VeriSign over this week) would see a higher 75-cent tax on each domain, possibly higher. Renegotiation of contracts is going to be an expensive business in future, it would seem.
The jump to $2 will worry many though and may explain the lengthy and ongoing discussions that ICANN is holding with other sponsored top-level domains. According to the agreement reached between ICANN and .jobs and .travel, they will pay a "registry level transaction fee" of $2 on every domain sale or change, and they will pay it as a lump sum, quarterly (see page 17 of the agreement [pdf]).
The companies behind .travel and .jobs look as if they have finally caved in and agreed to the charge, putting the others under pressure to do the same.
Currently, ICANN is in formal negotiations with another six new domains. The .asia domain has been discussed in ICANN Board meetings twice this year, once on 24 January and again on 18 February. But we can't tell what the upshot of those meetings has been since ICANN has still failed to make the minutes available, breaking its own bylaws.
The .cat domain has likewise been discussed at the self-same Board meetings. Negotiations opened with the controversial .mobi domain in December last year, but it would seem the powerful companies behind that bid aren't yet ready to agree terms with ICANN.
That leaves .post, with whom negotiations have been going on since October last year; and .xxx, which was discussed in the January Board meeting but not the subsequent one.
It would seem that the bid for .tel by Pulver has been passed over in favour of the bigger Telnic bid for .tel. The ICANN Board discussed that one last week, but, again, the organisation has not released the minutes.
And as for .mail - we've heard nothing at all.