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ICANN Takes Domain Name Action

The initial board of directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has adopted a policy to accredit Internet domain name registrars and announced the requirements, and has created an ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) yesterday in Singapore in a series of meetings held in conjunction with the APRICOT '99 conference.

With the adoption of the registrar accreditation policy, competing registrars will be accredited to process registrations in the .com, .org, and .net generic top level domains (TLDs). Registrars can begin applications by March 15.

"Five registrars [will go through] a test period from April through June, and then a wider number of registrars will be put in place possibly in the July time frame," said Frank J. Fitzsimmons, senior vice president of global marketing in The Dun & Bradstreet Corp., one of the 10 board members of ICANN.

The policy approved yesterday reflects a number of public comments that reduce the uncertainties for registrars and registrants, and contains requirements that are clearer and less burdensome as opposed to when it was first drafted. The guidelines also clarify the legal liabilities of registrants that license names to anonymous third parties.

The ICANN board has also formed a DNSO to be a consensus-based policy advisory body within ICANN. The DNSO includes a General Assembly open to any individual or entity willing to participate in the work of the DNSO.

The initial DNSO should consist of the following constituencies: ccTLD registries, commercial and business entities, gTLD registries, ISPs and connectivity providers, non-commercial domain name holders, registrars, and trademark and anti-counterfeiting interest parties.

Other actions include the adoption of a conflicts of interest policy and a reconsideration policy as required by the ICANN bylaws.

"The US government was in the business of growing and maintaining the Internet. Within the last two years they wanted to get out of that business. They wanted to hand the administration over to a non-profit global corporation. So they work with other parties to select the corporation [ICANN]," said Fitzsimmons.

Between now and September 2000, ICANN is slated to gradually take over responsibility for coordinating domain name system management, IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment coordination, and root server system management.

"This is meant to be a non-profit, non-governmental corporation. We interface with governments, but governments are not members of ICANN," Fitzsimmons said. "Governments are playing the support role in government TLDs (gTLDs)--.sg, .au, and .us. Governments are important constituents to that process. In fact the Government Advisory Committee was kicked off here."

Inaugurated three days ago at the same series of ICANN meetings in Singapore, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) further endorsed the principles of the private-sector model for the technical administration of the Internet first put in motion by the United States government in July 1998.

"Today represented a significant milestone in the establishment of ICANN," said Paul Twomey, chairman of the GAC, three days ago at the inauguration. "We saw a broad cross-section of the community of nations express strong support for the idea that the Internet is best managed by the Internet community itself."

The GAC is not a decision-making intergovernmental organization, but a forum for providing advice to ICANN.

"I believe 17 representatives from 17 countries came to Singapore as well as governmental bodies such as OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development], WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization], WTO [World Trade Organization], and the European Union," Fitzsimmons said.