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ICANN, NSI at Odds Again Over Names Council Makeup

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers' board of directors this week cast a unanimous vote limiting the number of seats allocated to Network Solutions on the Domain Name Supporting Organization's Names Council.

The resolution, passed late Thursday, bars any three individuals from representing any one constituency on the Domain Name Supporting Organization's Names Council. In addition, the board allows only two of these delegates to represent the same geographic area, unless the board deems it "impracticable for the constituency to obtain such geographic diversity."

The amendment sends two of Network Solution's three representatives out the door and effectively limits Network Solutions' influence on the ICANN Name Council.

There are currently 21 concerned parties sending delegates to the council. NSI held all of the council's seats assigned to generic top level domains (GTLD) as keepers of the domain name allocation database. This status gave NSI three of the 21 seats on the council, until today.

"NSI is disappointed with the results of the vote," said NSI spokesman Brian O'Shaunnessy. "This is indicative of a broader weakness in ICANN's policy decisions without consensus."

O'Shaunnessy said that the move is "disappointing" for the broader Internet community, pointing to mixed responses on ICANN's unanimous decision. ICANN disagrees, saying that the organization has received a majority of positive feedback to the move.

He also criticized ICANN for holding another closed meeting, calling the vote an act "done in secret" because dissenting views and debate were not available to the public.

Despite the recent battles between ICANN and NSI, there is still cooperation behind the scenes that ensures "confidence that NSI, ICANN, and the Department of Commerce can continue to work together," according to the spokesman.

The three seats were held by NSI employee Don Telage and by NSI lawyers David R. Johnson and Phil L. Sbarbaro. Johnson is a partner at Washington, D.C.-based law firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. A member of the Hanson-Molloy law offices, Sbarbaro has been involved in 38 of NSI's 40 lawsuits regarding trademark ownership.

ICANN spokesman McLaughlin said that the resolution "closes a loophole" which allowed NSI's lawyers to hold the seats.