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ICANN Kingdom Crumbling Among ccTLDs

A working group of the country-code top level domains (ccTLDs) voted unanimously last Friday to withdraw from the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO). While the administrator of South Africa's .za domain, Mike Lawry, wasn't involved, he says he "can understand the annoyance" felt by ccTLDs.

The DNSO is one of three foundation member groups of ICANN, involving policy formation. The other two are the Address Supporting Organization (ASO), responsible for numbering, and the Protocol Supporting Organization (PSO), which is responsible for technical infrastructure issues.

The vote took place during the opening day of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) quarterly meeting and was accompanied by a call on ICANN to create a separate supporting organization that will give more say to ccTLDs in ICANN decisions, including at least one seat on that organization's board of directors.

The decision was reportedly taken because ccTLDs felt they received little from the DNSO and wanted a more meaningful role.

ICANN determines the policies that affect the top-level domains (.com, .net, .org); for example, they agreed that Verisign could keep its monopoly as .com registry for an additional seven years earlier in 2001. The policy decision for ccTLDs are made by the administrators of those ccTLDs.

Even so, ICANN solicits funds from ccTLDs -- as much as one third of ICANNs funding according to ZDNet.

Lawrie is particularly critical of the financial support solicited from ccTLDs. He is a "one man show" who receives no compensation for his role in administering the .za domain, something he believes is true of many ccTLD administrators, particularly in developing countries. He notes that last year he received an "invoice" from ICANN demanding payment for "unspecified" services.

He also criticizes ICANN's budgets, which run into millions of US dollars upon occasion. He doubts these amounts are necessary to maintain the Net's root servers, which is what ICANN should be concentrating on, he believes. "They should focus on the [IP] numbers," he says.

Many are critical of ICANN, viewing the board as non-representative and with a political agenda beyond simply administering the DNS.