RealTime IT News

Group Blesses Postel Domain Proposal

A new domain name policy came one step closer to becoming a reality late Tuesday night when a key government group approved a plan by the late Jon Postel to have a new non-profit organization oversee the system.

Also, a top Clinton Administration official said Wednesday he expected differences between rival Internet groups would be resolved soon, enabling the plan to be enacted quickly.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration gave its conditional go-ahead to a proposal by Postel calling for a non-profit group, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to run the domain system.

Postel led the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) until his death last week. Supported by the United States government, IANA has overseen aspects of the Internet's domain-name and Internet Protocol address systems.

However, the NTIA did recommend several changes in a letter sent to ICANN chief Herb Schorr.

"Based on a review of ICANN's submission, other public submissions and on public comments on those submissions, the Department of Commerce regards the ICANN submission as a significant step towards privatizing management of the domain name system," wrote Becky Burr, acting associate administrator of international affairs for NTIA.

"Overall, the submissions we received supported moving forward with the ICANN structure. However, the public comments received on the ICANN submission reflect significant concerns about substantive and operational aspects of ICANN," Burr wrote.

Ira Magaziner, President Clinton's Internet policy advisor, also expressed concerns.

"There needs to be substantial modifications to the proposal," said Magaziner, to provide greater openness, transparency and financial accountability. "We're hopeful that ICANN will meet with the other parties involved," he said.

While differences remain, Magaziner is confident the plan will be enacted quickly -- perhaps as early as next week.

Magaziner also urged ICANN to take into account issues raised by some rival groups. Also submitting plans were the Boston Working Group, the Open Root Server Confederation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The NTIA suggested ICANN work with these groups to remedy differences on issues including the makeup of ICANN's board. Those groups want the membership to include more members from other nations. Additional concerns raised include a lack of financial accountability.

Once Schoor and other ICANN members address these points to the government's satisfaction, the government will transfer control of the domain system.

"The United States intends to move carefully but expeditiously to privatize DNS management," Burr said. "Assuming that the concerns described can be resolved satisfactorily, we would then like to begin work on a transition agreement between the United States and ICANN."