Wary of U.S., EC Offers Net Recommendations

BRUSSELS (04/11/2000) - Reflecting concerns about the continued dominance of the U.S. and U.S.-based Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) over the registry of Internet domain names, the European Commission announced today a series of recommendations to improve the functioning of the Internet.

"The Internet's capacity to unleash enterprise is beyond question. We must now show that its infrastructure can be run fairly and effectively to the benefit of all its users," Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for the Information Society said in a statement.

The recommendations contained in a Commission Communication on "The Organization and Management of the Internet; International and European Policy Issues 1998-2000," reflect European Union concerns that despite the creation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) two years ago to ensure international control over the network, implementation of the agreement has been less than perfect.

As a result, the Commission proposes, among other things, to make the election of ICANN's governing board a more open and transparent process, and to secure funding of ICANN in an open manner through the network of recently created registries for domain names.

The Commission has also raised questions about the fact that ICANN staff is dominated by U.S. personnel who do not have the linguistic capabilities necessary for a truly international organization.

"For example, the Japanese are still waiting for ICANN to prepare a registration form in Japanese. What type of democratic entity is this ?" a Commission official, who asked not to be identified, commented today.

Up until last year, NSI held exclusive rights to assign domain names ending in.com, .net, and.org. But the U.S. Department of Commerce, under pressure from various U.S. and non-U.S. parties, has allowed new competitors into this field.

However, NSI has kept control rights of the Internet name registry, which contains every address on the Internet.

At a European level, the recommendations urge rapid approval of the proposed ".eu" high level domain. The Commission wants it up and running by the end of this year, the official explained.

This new domain name would co-exist with the 15 national domain names within the EU, and would be available for cross-border electronic commerce services, European institutions and non-profit organizations, he added.

The Commission issued the recommendations as part of its continuing efforts to accelerate European access to the Internet recognized as top priority if the EU is to successfully compete in the global electronic commerce market.

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