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.
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
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
“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
“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.”