CORE says domain name plan is too US-centric

The plan for administration of the Internet domain name system advanced last week by the US government is insufficiently international, the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE) has charged. The Clinton administration's plan is intended to move responsibility for the administrative tasks of the Internet from their origins in American academia to a more broadly representative system, some parts of which can be thrown open to competition. The plan calls for administrative control to be transferred to a US-based, nonprofit corporation governed by an international board. Though headed by a nonprofit corporation, some aspects of the system would be competitive and for-profit. CORE was careful to praise the concept of moving administration of the Internet to a nonprofit corporation but said that the plan didn't consider international players enough and that the government should let that corporation make many of the decisions the government is making instead.

The plan for administration of the Internet domain name system advanced last week by the US government is insufficiently international, the Internet Council of Registrars (CORE) has charged.

The Clinton administration's plan, announced on Friday, is intended to move responsibility for the administrative tasks of the Internet from their origins in American academia to a more broadly representative system, some parts of which can be thrown open to competition.

The plan calls for administrative control to be transferred to a US-based, nonprofit corporation governed by an international board. Though headed by a nonprofit corporation, some aspects of the system would be competitive and for-profit.

CORE was careful to praise the concept of moving administration of the Internet to a nonprofit corporation but said that the plan didn't consider international players enough and that the government should let that corporation make many of the decisions the government is making instead.

"There's so much micro-managing being done" by the government, said Greg Hurst, communications chair for CORE and director of technology at Freedom Communications in Irvine, California. Freedom Communications is one of 88 CORE registrars who paid US$10,000 to CORE to sign on to their Internet administration plan which they organized while the government was still analyzing its options. CORE's decision to promulgate its plan, known as the generic top-level domain (gTLD) plan, antagonized many Internet stakeholders and now appears in jeopardy.

According to Hurst, 25 of CORE's 88 registrars are based in the U.S. and the remaining ones are international companies.

"CORE, more so than any other plan on the table, really has a handle on the international needs," Hurst said.

Another CORE registrar, based in Canada, echoed Hurst's concerns.

"The Policy Oversight Committee spent almost two years to set up the fair, efficient and competitive registry system known as CORE, [but] the U.S. government seems less concerned about that than they do in maintaining the US monopoly on Internet registration," said Colin Campbell, vice president of Domain Direct in a statement.

"We have real fears that the process will continue to be dominated by American interests."

The government's plan, known as a "green paper" and found at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/nitahome/domainname/dnsdrft.htm/, calls for replacing the domain-naming system currently managed under government contract by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) with a U.S.-based nonprofit corporation run by a board with international members. The corporation would establish up to five new registries, each in charge of one of five new top-level domains (TLD) which would be added to existing TLDs such as .com and .org. But while the plan calls for the management of an underlying TLD to fall to one entity, any number of companies could act as a registrar for a given TLD. Registries could thus compete with one another by offering varying levels of service and different pricing structures.

CORE is circulating a draft of its response to the green paper internally and hopes to file its response by the end of the week, Hurst said.

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