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ICANN Wraps Up Stockholm Meetings

The Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers (ICANN) wrapped up its weekend meetings in Stockholm early Monday morning with a variety of decisions aimed at bringing its version of stability to the Internet.

But detractors continued to debate the organization's commitment to worldwide inclusion with policies directed at continued U.S. dominance in the Internet sector.

In its board of directors meeting, directors voted 16-1, with one abstention, to a nearly 20 percent increase in its operating budget to fund staff payrolls and continue funding current projects. The raise gives ICANN directors paychecks between $100,000-$300,000 and opens the door for directors to hire a full-time lawyer and public relations manager.

Carl Auerbach, the only ICANN director to vote against a pay raise, was concerned with the organization's continued growth.

"I think we're growing too large, well beyond our obligations to the articles of the corporation," Auerbach said.

It was an attitude not shared by anyone else in the meeting; in fact, many said it wasn't enough. Fellow directors Jonathan Cohen and Masanobu Katoh called the new budget "modest" and "too small."

ICANN's decision to increase its budget, and by extension, its role in the domain name community is being met with growing concern from the international community. The organization, despite claims to the contrary, is just one domain name root server serving the Internet. And an increasingly harsh doctrine of exclusion is not making ICANN any new friends.

Len Lindon, an Australian lawyer following the proceedings, said many people outside the U.S. are increasingly fed up with the organization's exclusive policies and until ICANN takes the international community's concerns seriously, a budget increase is not warranted.

"Until ICANN can demonstrate to the world that it has no association, direct or indirect, with (the U.S.), their budget increase isn't warranted," Lindon said. "The ICANN is basically an American intranet holding the .com, .net, org and (country code Top Level Domains). China has its own intranet globally as do most U.S. multinational corporations, so it becomes an interoperability issue.

"Vint Cerf (ICANN chairman) and Stuart Lynn (ICANN president) have made it clear they view other roots and TLDs as competitors," Lindon continued, "but they still are in denial about their monopolistic practices."

ICANN's domain name supporting organization (DNSO) was tasked with finding a new home for the .org domain name registry. VeriSign, as part of its agreement with the Internet governing body and the Department of Commerce, agreed to surrender its registry of the domain by the end of the year.

The DNSO will determine who should get the domain and is expected to report its findings by Oct. 12, so public comments can be filed before ICANNs next scheduled meeting in November.

Despite vocal opposition, plans go forward for inclusion of the seven new global TLDs. Two domain extensions, .biz and .info, will go "live" this summer and ICANN directors called for a task force to monitor the process and make a report at its next meeting.

Companies representing the two extensions were given the go-ahead by ICANN directors to accept domain name applications by registrars this summer, to see how well the process works. This summer's domain name "gold rush" is the first such effort by the U.S. government root server in years, and officials want to ensure the process goes well.

Some directors clearly thought the timetable on the other five domains should be sped up. Hans Kraaijenbrink, ICANN director, said a plan should be in the works by this fall to bring in the rest of the domain extensions.

ICANN Director Linda Wilson said the report by the TLD Evaluation Process Planning Task Force that was unlikely.

"How can we do that evaluation so quickly and figure out what to do about new TLDs by November 2001?" Wilson said. "Some of these new TLDs will barely have started by that time."

Kraaijenbrink conceded jokingly he was "asking for the impossible."

ICANN directors also unanimously approved the establishment of eligibility requirements for new regional Internet registries (RIRs) to relieve the increasing demand for IP addresses. ICANN, in its role as administrator of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, is tasked with finding some release for these companies.

The RIPE Network Coordination Center, American Registry for Internet Numbers, and Asian-Pacific Network Information Center are three RIRs responsible for allocating IP addresses to Internet service providers (ISPs) worldwide, a daunting task as more and more individual go online for the first time.

And as IPv6, which would replace the current IP addressing method and open up millions more IP addresses, becomes more necessary every year, the need for more RIRs increases. New RIRs would relieve the pressure from the three existing organizations, but some critics are concerned about rules that would make it difficult for a non-ICANN domain name to be viewed.

Leah Gallegos, owner of the .biz domain name extension on the Atlantic root server, said the new RIRs could be set up to exclude her customer's domain extensions.

"If the agreements (new RIRs) sign with ICANN are restrictive, it will hurt choice much more than domain names," Gallegos said. "For example, if the new agreements say that ISPs have to point to a particular root or set of servers in order to receive an (IP) allocation, choice is gone and ICANN rules the planet in terms of the Internet."