Let's focus now on what is going on: domain names, which serve as a means to identify a website on the internet for the "general public", are managed by "Registrars", and are broken down into specialized types that are called a TLDs (Top Level Domains). There are several hundred of these, the most well known and popular ones are: .com, .org, .info, .de, etc...
These are either private companies and thus purely commercial, or are tied to the state that owns them (sometimes the two). Domains in .fr for example, are managed by AFNIC, which is an association administered by the French Government for which the representatives play a large role in the board of directors. Domains in .com are managed by Verisign, which (unimaginable in other markets) is also a reseller (also called "Registrar"), such as us.
- The United States Department of Commerce (DoC) governs selection via one of its bodies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), -NTIA delegates the administrative management of domain names to ICANN (an association), -ICANN selects the technical service-providers that manage the daily operations of the general TLDs (Verisign for .com and .net, PIR for .org, Affilias for .info, etc...), and countries make their own choice for their national TLD, but they are still under American influence as the 13 root servers are located in the USA, which can cause management difficulties.
Thus, , is part of a classical market that is growing and protecting its goods, its profit, its interests, etc; in short, it is maturing. The debate has already taken place for the .com TLD and things are already going towards that direction: price increases solely for profit, the shameless commercial use of domain names by registrars and registries.
Obviously, therefore, one can (and one must) see the manipulation in all this, as both the private and public forces depend on large volumes. However, this seems to me to be unavoidable in the end.
Simply because trying to influence these decisions is totally utopic at our levels (Gandi or individuals). There is indeed some sort of meeting of domain name registrars within ICANN, but in addition to the fact that the decisions are made in Washington, registrars themselves are not in unanimous agreement; when they are, it does not last long. The flip-flop of Godaddy (the world's largest registrar by far), is edifying. In this regards, the fact of seeing Bob Parsons referenced has always made me smile (ah! his opportunistic burden of the .eu!).
Does this prevent us from being able to act? Of course not: 6 years ago, Gandi (and others) managed to change the rules by breaking up the oligopoly of these companies and proposed an alternative. Oh! we don't have our heads in the clouds: but simply the fact that we exist, that we are one of the largest domain name registrars in the world for the most popular TLDs AND that we refuse to undertake certain practices (domain name price based on its commercial value, Sitefinder, direct reseller of used domain names, etc...) is an uncontested face, and proof that it is possible to behave "differently".
This is written in our DNA: Gandi was founded on the principle of the availability of inexpensive domain name registration for all, respecting the interests of our customers, honesty, and we are not ready to change this.
We will continue along this path, because in the end, you are the ones with the power. It is simply necessary to exercise it, to make a choice. If a minority does not act as sheep, choosing an alternative instead (whether this be us or another in your eyes) and if the balance of forces will be a bit less unbalanced, the market will regulate itself a bit...because you will have a choice.
This diversity is quite simply what we must preserve (much more so than to fight against windmills), because it affects our rapidity and the quality of our evolution.