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October 1, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Some of the main payers in the battle for control of the domain name system took a break from official hostilities to bring them out into the open on a panel at ISPCon in San Jose yesterday. Gabe Battista, chief executive of Network Solutions Inc (NSI), taking time out from intense negotiations with the Department of Commerce (10/01/98), emphasized the need for accountability and a membership structure for the new non-profit corporation to run the internet – themes that NSI injected into the plan drawn up by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is the current front runner. He said, I don’t think we’re there on all those, but I also don’t think the bylaws can be specific enough. Some of these things will have to be worked out as we go along. One of the bitterest rivals of NSI is the Council of Registrars (CORE), the body that wants to see new generic top-level domains added to the net as fast as possible and for it to become the registry for one or more domain in competition with NSI. CORE chairman Ken Stubbs was visibly annoyed whenever the conversation sounded too US-centric – a charge he also levels at the whole process for forming the new corporation, which will probably be called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN). Stubbs said that within 18 months he expected the number of users outside the US, to mirror the 80 million or so currently believed to be in the US. Rutkowski, a consultant with General Magic, engineer, lawyer and internet veteran said a particular concern was excessive EU involvement, a point at which Stubbs bristled. Rutkowski also claimed that revisions of the previous IANA draft plan by the Boston Working Group and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) broke apart what appeared to be a consensus, which is a view perhaps only he and IANA director Jon Postel would hold. Most seem to feel that they were an attempt to build a consensus view and gained a lot of support in the internet community. One question that perhaps gets overlooked too often, is who is going to pay for ICANN once the US government pulls the plug in its funding. Rutkowski suggested that the industry would have to pay for it, which seems reasonable enough, although it led to growls from the predominantly ISP audience. Battista suggested that costs of the new corporation could be kept down by attempting to restrict the functioning of the new entity, which was a theme developed during the International Forum on he White Paper (IFWP) meetings during the summer, in which NSI was involved. The panel was moderated by Ellen Rony, co-author of the recently-published Domain Name Handbook.

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