ICANN sets up group to help manage domain names

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began laying the groundwork last week for managing the technical aspects of the Internet.

Following the group's two-day meeting in Berlin, ICANN announced on Friday a number of organisational changes which will help it manage two of its assigned tasks, coordinating the Internet domain name system and new IP (Internet protocol) addresses.

ICANN is a non-profit, international organisation created to oversee the technical functions of the Internet, most of which were formerly carried out by the US government. Among its duties, which it will begin carrying out by September 2000, are coordinating the Internet domain name system, allocating IP (Internet protocol) addresses, coordinating parameters for new Internet protocols, and managing the Internet's root server system.

At the meeting, ICANN created a group called the Domain Names Supporting Organisation (DNSO), according to an ICANN statement. DNSO will make recommendations on how ICANN oversees the domain name system. DNSO will help ICANN establish ways to settle domain name disputes, and decide how and when to expand the number of top-level domains such as .com.

ICANN also identified six different constituencies which will make up the DNSO, the statement said. The six groups are: organisations that register country-code top-level domains (such as .de, .uk or .jp,), those that register generic top-level domains (such as .com, .org and .net), commercial and business entities, intellectual property interests, Internet service providers (ISPs) and other providers of Internet connectivity, and registrars (the companies that register the names under which individuals or corporations wish to be known on the Web, such as www.greeneurope.org or www.ibm.com.)A seventh group, representing non-commercial domain name holders, will be considered at a later date, ICANN said in its statement.

The groundwork was also laid at the meeting for setting up another committee called the Protocol Supporting Organisation (PSO). Its prospective members will include Internet standards bodies such as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the World Wide Web Consortium.

That leaves only one more supporting organisation to create, ICANN said, the Address Supporting Organisation, which will be dealt with in upcoming meetings.

Also in Berlin, ICANN reviewed the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)'s recent report on domain names. WIPO was asked to consider the intellectual property issues posed by the first-come, first-served system by which domain names have until now been allocated on the Internet.

While WIPO's report mainly focused on abuses in registering domain names -- with name "scalpers" often purchasing choice domain names and then selling them at a high price - ICANN said that it needs to develop a more comprehensive policy regarding all intellectual property issues. It asked ICANN-accredited registrars to develop and voluntarily adopt a model for resolving such disputes. The DNSO will also consider these topics and make recommendations on how to deal with them by July 31, ICANN said.

ICANN also looked at how it can ensure that individual users of the Internet can participate in electing nine of ICANN's 19 directors. ICANN's asked its staff and legal counsel to report to it before its next meeting on the administrative, legal and financial issues this presents.

The group also passed a budget of $US5.9 million for the fiscal year starting on July 1, ICANN said.

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