Internet illuminati want to run .org as a public trust

Two high-profile internet organisations, IMS (Internet Multicasting Service) and ISC (Internet Software Consortium), yesterday formally announced their joint bid for running the not-for-profit .org top-level domain (TLD) registry.

Two high-profile internet organisations, IMS (Internet Multicasting Service) and ISC (Internet Software Consortium), yesterday formally announced their joint bid for running the not-for-profit .org top-level domain (TLD) registry.

The bid comes ahead of this month’s meeting in Bucharest, Romania, at which ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will announce its decision of who will take over the running of .org from VeriSign of California. The agreement to run .org expires on December 31 this year.

VeriSign has promised $US5 million to ease the transition of the database, which comprises 2.7 million registrations. This, and the fact that the .org registration business is estimated to be worth $US15 to $US18 million a year, has attracted interest from several commercial entities. Bidders include .coop registry PopTel of the UK and AusRegistry, which operates the .au ccTLD.

Another bidder is The Internet Society, ISOC, which has teamed up with commercial .info TLD operator Afilias, to run .org.

ICANN originally intended for .org to be run by a nonprofit organisation, and there is some concern that commercial organisations will milk the TLD for profits. Carl Malamud of IMS says that: “I just don't get why some of these teams should be in the registry business, except for wanting the money.”

IMS and ISC are both well-known for their public work on the internet. ISC is home to Paul Vixie, responsible for much of the software that runs today’s internet, like the Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) program that resolves domain names to IP addresses.Vixie is scheduled to give a talk at this year’s NZNOG (NZ Network Operators’ Group) conference in July.

IMS and ISC are registered non-profit organisations, and have formally committed themselves to donate eight per cent of the .org revenues to ISOC.

Malamud says that profits from running .org will be ploughed back into the internet infrastructure. When drawn on the details, Malamud mentioned funding of IETF, and to make .org more robust and secure the deployment of servers globally. Alternatively, operational surpluses could be used to cut registration fees.

IMS/ISC bid also proposes to release the software that runs the .org as Open Source. The software architect behind this is expatriate Aucklander Joe Abley. Formerly the network architect responsible for designing Clear’s IP network, Abley is a lead engineer for US backbone provider AboveNet/MFN and has won international recognition as an awk programming language evangelist.

Abley says: “we know what we are doing and can be trusted not to turn the whole thing into a monstrous money-making exercise.” He believes IMS/ISC is the only bidder for .org without a commercial entity hidden behind the curtain. Releasing the software for the registry and for registrars as open source and in binary form for free allows other top-level domains to deploy robust domain management without having to reinvent the wheel or invest in expensive, proprietary solutions, Abley continues.

InternetNZ is already developing its shared registry using Open Source software

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