The jostling for position and power following the publication of the US government’s final policy on the internet domain name system has begun in earnest. The white paper left the formation of the non-profit corporation to run the DNS and its supporting technologies up to the internet community, and as such created a vacuum that […]
The jostling for position and power following the publication of the US government’s final policy on the internet domain name system has begun in earnest. The white paper left the formation of the non-profit corporation to run the DNS and its supporting technologies up to the internet community, and as such created a vacuum that many have been readying themselves to fill. We revealed yesterday the group of companies and organizations that are pooling efforts – some of whom apparently did not want their names mentioned just yet – that includes IBM Corp, Network Solutions Inc, Iperdome, the Domain Name Rights Coalition and Commercial Internet eXchange. They plan to hold a workshop meeting on July 1 and 2, at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia, to which internet stakeholders of all types will be invited. The meeting is being organized by the Washington DC law firm, Covington & Burling. The first day will be spent articulating the viewpoints, the second reaching some sort of consensus and working out details of the incorporation, according to a source. However, a few key players were missing from the list of participants, and some of those spoke out yesterday at what one called an attempted coup. Don Heath, the president and chief executive of the Internet Society (ISOC), which first promoted similar ideas to those now endorsed by the government more than two years ago, called the group a fractious group of people. ISOC took on board suggestions from the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) head Jon Postel about expanding the DNS using a number of competing registries, spelled out in a May 1996 proposal. ISOC then helped form the Internet Ad-Hoc Committee (IAHC), which proposed seven new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to go alongside .com, .net and .org. The IAHC later morphed into the Policy Oversight Committee (POC). The government took on board what POC had to say, and in its green paper issued late January suggested the addition of three new gTLDs. However, the white paper backed away from that and left it all up to the new corporation. ISOC’s Heath said the group’s ability to gain much support would be unlikely and weak. Heath echoed what we have been hearing from most people outside the group when he said: Any efforts to create such an organization that isn’t anchored around Jon Postel isn’t likely to succeed. We contacted Postel but so far have not had a reply. Aside from the inclusion to some degree of Postel and his staff, the green paper spelled out a proposed structure for the board of the new corporation very clearly. Following an initial interim board, it was to have a board comprising 15 members chosen from the three regional numbering authorities (ARIN, APNIC and RIPE), two chosen by the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), two representing the interests of representing domain name registries and registrars, seven representing the interests of users, plus one chief executive. But all the white paper says is that these groups should be represented, but does not recommend any structure. One member of the workshop group said that following conversations with various corporation and fiduciary experts it became clear that the process was going backwards within this particular part of the internet community: the people were being chosen (or, at least were putting themselves forward as likely candidates) when the structure had not been decided upon, let alone the policies. But now, with corporate law and fiduciary expert Tamar Frankel acting as chair of the meeting, the group feels the process has more credibility. NSI’s senior VP internet affairs Don Telage said on Friday that his company was invited to join the group. However, Heath smells NSI’s hand behind the whole thing and points to the influence NSI’s parent company, San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp (SAIC) has in Washington: NSI is behind it, he said, before adding that it [SAIC] has extensive and powerful clout with the US government, says Heath. Heath is also suspicious of the motives of those involved, but he believes that anyone trying to get a piece of the domain name registration pie would be mistaken for believing that there is a lot of money to made from it. The service will just be seen as a commodity once competition is introduced, he says. Heath concludes that this kind of group is not doing the internet any good.