Proposal would create corporation to manage IP addresses and DNS

The wild and woolly Internet could finally get a board of directors under proposals
submitted this month to Commerce Secretary William M. Daley.


The proposals call for a new Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to
coordinate numerical IP addressing and the Domain Name System. ICANN would take over the
work done by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority at the University of Southern
California and by Network Solutions Inc. of Herndon, Va.


The chief proposal was largely the work of IANA director Jon Postel. A second proposal
came from users calling themselves the Boston Working Group, who suggested slightly
different articles of incorporation and bylaws for ICANN.


IANA currently assigns the numerical IP addresses. Network Solutions, under government
contract, has been registering uniform resource locators based on domain names tied to the
numerical addresses.


Under an Oct. 6 agreement with Commerce, however, Network Solutions must open up the
.com, .net and .org domains to competing registrars beginning March 31 and must make its
databases and expertise available to ICANN. Network Solutions’ own registration
activities will be extended until Sept. 30, 2000. The General Services Administration and
the Defense Department will handle registrations for .gov and .mil, respectively.


The agreement shows a “commitment to robust competition in DNS management,”
said Becky Burr, associate administrator of Commerce’s National Telecommunications
and Information Administration.


ICANN will take authority over the name and number assignments and will maintain the
root servers that map URLs to IP addresses and direct traffic on the Internet.


The Clinton administration proposed such a nonprofit corporation in a June policy paper
from NTIA, promoting privatization of Internet oversight after Network Solutions’
contract expired Sept. 30.


The deadline passed while Network Solutions was negotiating its contract extension, and
while the contentious Internet community debated details of the new corporation.


“There were many cultural and philosophical differences,” said Chris Clough,
director of corporate communications and policy at Network Solutions.


It boiled down to whether ICANN should be a standard-setting body with limited powers
of technical coordination or a more comprehensive regulatory body with policy
responsibilities, Clough said.


Under the plan, ICANN will have its headquarters in Los Angeles and incorporated under
California’s Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law. The board would consist of
nine to 19 directors, none representing national governments. But there would be a
Governmental Advisory Committee.


The proposed interim at-large board members are Geraldine Capdeboscq of Groupe Bull,
venture capitalist George H. Conrades, Gregory L. Crew of the Australian Communications
Industry Forum, Esther Dyson of Edventure Holdings, Frank Fitzsimmons of Dun &
Bradstreet Corp., Hans Kraaijenbrink of the Association of European Public
Telecommunications Network Operators, Jan Murai of Japan’s Keio University,
management consultant Eugenio Triana and Linda S. Wilson of Radcliffe College.


Commerce will accept comments through tomorrow about the proposals posted on the Web
site at http://www.ntia.doc.gov.  

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