Country operators defect from ICANN support org

ICANN suffered a public defection at its meeting in Stockholm last week, when operators of internet domain names for individual countries voted to withdraw from the ICANN supporting organisation, Domain Name Supporting Organisation (DNSO).

          The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) suffered a public defection at its meeting in Stockholm last week, when operators of internet domain names for individual countries voted to withdraw from the ICANN supporting organisation, Domain Name Supporting Organisation (DNSO).

          ICANN is the nonprofit group that oversees basic technical matters related to the internet, including the system for managing and allocating domain names.

          The vote taken by a working group of the operators of the country-code top level domains (ccTLDs) -- such as .uk for the U.K and .fr for France -- came during the first day of ICANN's quarterly meeting and was unanimous, according to William Black, managing director of Nominet UK, the registry organisation for .uk internet domain names.

          "We'd like a little more consideration of country domain names and a more direct relationship with ICANN. Not a lot of DNSO time has been spent on the country codes," Black says.

          According to Black, 41 countries were represented at the meeting, with 29 countries actually present for the vote. As a result of the vote, the ccTLDs will no longer continue paying fees to the DNSO, though they will remain a part of ICANN and will continue to support the organisation as a whole financially, Black says.

          "We've been asked to pay about a third of the ICANN budget so we would like more influence within the organisation. We are not withdrawing from ICANN and will continue to pay the non-DNSO fees, which is the bulk of the fees," Black says.

          The ccTLDs are specifically requesting that an extra support organisation be established for supporting country codes, Black says.

          There are currently three "supporting organisations" (SOs) within ICANN of which DNSO is one, according to ICANN. Within the DNSO itself, there are seven constituencies, such as registrars, commercial and business entities, ISP (internet service providers) and connectivity providers, and noncommercial domain name holders.

          "We believe that ICANN as a organisation is at least working towards the right way of handing (internet domain name issues), though there are areas we'd like see to improved upon," Black says.

          ICANN's operating practices aren't just being questioned by the ccTLDs. An interim report issued last week by the NGO (nongovernmental organisation) and Academic ICANN Study (NAIS) on last year's election of at-large members suggested a need to examine public participation in ICANN.

          The interim report by NAIS, a group of experts from around the world, focused on public participation in ICANN's election of five at-large board members in October. The study found that the purpose of ICANN and the goals of its current structure allowing public participation must be better understood to assess the role of the at-large directors and membership. NAIS said it would issue its complete report in September.

          As for the ccTLDs, the next step is to prepare a formal presentation for ICANN requesting the new support organisation, Black says. Such a presentation should be given at ICANN's next meeting in September, or at the final meeting of the year in December, Black says.

          "Meanwhile, we're going to keep talking to people and we do feel that we're making quite good progress with ICANN," Black says.

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