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ICANN Drops Registrar Fee

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has decided to call off its $1 registrar fee, and continued to defend its ability to get the job done on time, just one day after the deadline for the domain registration test bed phase was pushed back for the second time.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce, ICANN's interim chairman Esther Dyson Tuesday defended its progress as a consensus-development body, but this time admitted to several areas in need of improvement.

Bowing to protests against the controversial move, ICANN has deferred its proposed $1 per-year, per-domain registrar fee program. Instead, ICANN will form a task force of the DNS infrastructure entities which will recommend a "fair and workable" cost recovery plan for the organization.

The task force will provide its recommendations for a fee structure by October 1, with an interim report set to become available prior to ICANN's August meeting. The 19-member ICANN board will consider the recommendations at the November annual meeting.

However, Dyson reiterated that ICANN has so far been dependent on voluntary contributions to cover its costs, and asserts that some method must be developed "to spread the costs among the registrars according to the benefits they are receiving from the newly introduced competitive environment."

The Coalition of Domain Name Registrars has indicated to Congress that the group has no objections to paying a fair share of ICANN's costs, according to Dyson.

ICANN referred to an "immediate financial problem" and a need for short-term funding which "must be made available quickly."

Responding to criticism of previous closed meetings, Dyson said ICANN's Santiago board meeting in August will be held as a public meeting, but stated that the several members of the board would prefer to maintain private discussions with staff and other board members. Dyson deferred the decision for future open meetings as a matter to be considered by the new board.

Critics have said that ICANN's top priority must be to quickly organize an elected board of directors, and Dyson said that the structure of the supporting organizations and membership issues had so far hindered board formation. Dyson added that the nine additions to the board would be selected in time for ICANN's annual meeting in November.

Concerns about Internet over-regulation should not be directed to ICANN, according to Dyson, because the organization reflects a consensus.

Dyson said that she believes the controversial process "should improve as it matures; by definition, a consensus-building process starts with discussion of different views, and over time ideally produces convergence of those views into a consensus."