Internaut: ICANN says, 'I can't, not any longer'

ICANN says, 'I can't, not any longer'

Shawn P. McCarthy

The federal government gave up managing the Internet Domain Name System root in 1999. Now the job may be handed back to the government or to an international body with multigovernment sponsorship.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers took over DNS root management from the government but now says it doesn't have the funding or authority to do the job.

'A purely private organization will not work,' ICANN president Stuart Lynn said in a recent statement. He called for direct government involvement to spur decision-making and enforcement.

ICANN chairman Vinton G. Cerf has said he agrees that restructuring is needed to make the system work. A possible road map for such plans appears at www.icann.org/general/lynn-reform-proposal-24feb02.htm. It doesn't specify the changes but outlines a process for forcing stakeholders to make decisions together.

Without adhering to basic rules, Net users are stuck with a poorly managed, cobbled-together system and no real plan for dealing with long-term expansion.

Meanwhile, NeuStar Inc. of Washington, which owns the rights to manage the United States' Internet country code, .us, will begin accepting registrations from the public April 24. That could cause some confusion, because state and local jurisdictions that don't qualify for a .gov domain name have long used .us instead. School districts, for example, commonly use K-12 with town name, state name and .us.

Until April 9, NeuStar will accept applications for .us domains from owners of U.S. trademarks or others with a claim to a domain name. Government agencies now have the opportunity to persuade NeuStar to let them reserve specific domain names, so that the www.whitehouse.com porn fiasco isn't repeated.

In other news, the World Intellectual Property Organization has outlined trademark and intellectual property protection issues across the DNS. WIPO looks to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which took place back in 1883, as a model for safeguarding intellectual property among nations. WIPO proposes that such rules also apply to DNS to prevent chaos.

Shawn P. McCarthy designs products for a Web search engine provider. E-mail him at smccarthy@lycos-inc.com.

About the Author

Shawn McCarthy, a former writer for GCN, is senior analyst and program manager for government IT opportunities at IDC.

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