ICANN gives go-ahead to DNSO, new registrars

After weeks of back-and-forth and several proposals from competing interests, the nonprofit corporation set up to oversee Internet domains has an approved plan, based around the Domain Name Supporting Organisation (DNSO), which will in May take over the management of domain name issues such as creating more top-level domains and fostering competition in the .com, .net, .edu, .mil and .org domains.

After weeks of back-and-forth and several proposals from competing interests, the nonprofit corporation set up to oversee Internet domains has an approved plan.

Members of the Internet community met in Singapore last week to decide the structure of a Domain Name Supporting Organisation (DNSO), which would report to the ICANN board, and guidelines for registrars, which would hand out domains.

The DNSO in May will take over the management of domain name issues such as creating more top-level domains and fostering competition in the .com, .net, .edu, .mil and .org domains. Currently, Network Solutions Inc. manages those domains, but a government initiative begun last year aims to distribute management of those domains to other registries.

Initially, the DNSO will include seven constituency groups of organisations with Internet expertise to create policies. The groups include representatives from: country code Top Level Domains (ccTLD), such as .fr and .uk; generic top-level domains, including those not created yet such as .rec and .firm; registrars; commercial and business entities; Internet service and connectivity providers; trademark, intellectual property and anticounterfeiting interests; and noncommercial domain name holders, including nonprofit organisations and individual domain name holders.

As far as accrediting registrars, ICANN said it would begin to accept proposals from companies wanting to register domains starting March 15. Only five registrars will be selected.

ICANN Chairwoman Esther Dyson said that ICANN legal staff would amend the organisation's by-laws within three weeks to admit the formation of the DNSO. Once the by-laws have been adopted, it will be up to the Internet community to organize the various DNSO constituencies themselves, Dyson said.

The work of the DNSO's general assembly could then begin during the ICANN board meeting in Berlin in May, Dyson said. The assembly would then elect a Names Council, which would be the DNSO's managing body, and provide three members to the 19-strong ICANN board of directors, Dyson said.

Other board members will come from the Address Supporting Organisation and the Protocol Supporting Organisation and individual members of At Large organization.

The ICANN board said it had also adopted a policy and sample business contracts through which to accredit organisations, which wanted to manage the distribution of domains in the .com, .org, and .net domains.

The progress made was a last-minute compromise between two earlier competing submissions to the ICANN board - the BMW submission, seen as favoring corporate interests, and the Paris submission, which emphasised the role of individuals and nonprofit organisations.

(Legard is a correspondent for the IDG News Service.)

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