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February 1, 1998

CORE LICKS ITS SORES FOLLOWING GOVERNMENT DNS DRAFT

By CBR Staff Writer

Following Friday’s publication of the government’s green paper on management of the internet domain name system (DNS), the group advocating the inclusion of seven new top level domains (TLDs) into the system must be wondering what has hit them. The Council of Registrars (CORE), the name of the group of 88 registrars proposing to add seven new TLDs to the internet, must deal with the fact that it now knows for certain that it will not get its way, at least not completely. It will have to compete with other registries for the right to administer one of five, not seven new names. CORE may have to split into five to fit the plan, as its calls for competition on both the registrar business – which CORE had – and the registry businesses, which it did not. However, it should be stressed that the paper is a proposal for public discussion, not set in stone. But time is running out due to the imminent termination of Network Solutions Inc’s (NSI) federal contract to handle DNS registration.

Registries are the bodies that maintain the ‘zone files’ for a particular TLD. Those files contain the name of each second-level domain (SLD) (i.e. the ‘ibm’ in ibm.com) and the IP address of each SLD’s name server. Registrars are in the business of liaising with users, and submitting requests to the registry. The weird situation at the moment has NSI as both the exclusive registry, and registrar for .com, .net and .org. CORE’s main complaint is the apparent still-dominant role of the US government under the plan. It calls for direct policy oversight until September 30 this year and then continuing, but less involvement right through to September 30 2000. It is not entirely clear from the 15-page proposal whether the five new names would be introduced by September this year, or September 2000. Many people we spoke to Friday were not clear on the matter. This whole situation was brought to the fore by Jon Postel, who runs the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) under a contract from the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He proposed adding some more TLDs and this was picked up by the Internet Society, which in late 1996 set about investigating how to do this. The process eventually spawned the Internet Ad-Hoc Committee (IAHC), which came up with the seven new names. It has been criticized by many in the internet community for railroading through the new names with little consultation, though it denies this, with some justification. CORE was formed to establish a shared registry for the names. As each new registry will only be able to administer one name, CORE’s plan to register seven would not be supported by the government’s proposals. It is hard to see how 88 companies could compete to register just one TLD without many of them going to the wall. However, CORE will shortly have a shared registry database, courtesy of Emergent Corp, which the paper calls for, so that’s something the organization has going for it. It should also be remembered that the 88 registrars each ponied up $10,000 to CORE for the cost of establishing and running it, so there is a lot of money at stake here. Alan Hanson, the chair of CORE told us, In many ways, the green paper follows the road map designed by CORE, but the Administration takes a wrong turn along the way. CORE is keeping all of its options open. Hanson adds, We hope that this public comment period will serve as an opportunity to share the fruits of our developmental history. He says CORE, together with its oversight committee and advisory board is the proper vehicle for stewardship of the interim public trust vested in gTLDs and evolved within the crucible of public opinion. Marc Hurst, a CORE member who proposes to run one of the registrars said he didn’t believe the plan spelled the end for CORE but it has become apparent to me the leadership is not prepared to back up and rethink what they are doing. Hurst also described the plan as very fair and reckoned it bore a close resemblance to the original proposal from Jon Postel. Founder of alternative registry AlterNic, and no friend of CORE, Eugene Kashpureff said five mini-COREs would be even less desirable than one larger CORE.

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