The can of alphabet soup that is the committees fighting to gain control of the internet’s top-level domain (TLD) name structure just got a little fuller. The Internet Ad-Hoc Committee (IAHC) has been disbanded and in its place comes an interim Policy Oversight Committee (iPOC), made up largely of the same people and organizations initially, but with new members being brought on board shortly. Talk of iPOC first appeared on various mailing lists earlier this week, causing a few raised virtual eyebrows. Its purpose is to transition to a Policy Oversight Committee (POC) that will oversee the Council of Registrars (CORE) that the old IAHC proposed in its recent Geneva memorandum of understanding, which has now been signed by 104 companies endorsing the plan. And the full POC cannot be convened until the registrars have been selected, which is due to happen some time this summer. The process for choosing the companies that will register the seven new domain names the IAHC proposed is up in the air right now. A lottery was abandoned by the IAHC last week, in favor of a free-for-all, with the new registrars only having to meet minimum financial and technical standards set out in the MoU. CORE would manage the share databases – one for each of the seven domains – and users would go to CORE registers their TLDs, as they do currently with the InterNIC. That is managed currently by just one company, Network Solutions Inc (NSI), which was awarded the contract for .com, .org and .net by the federal National Science Foundation (NSF), which expires next spring. Dave Crocker, IAHC member and director of the Internet Mail Consortium said the registering process should be completed by late Q3, early Q4. David Maher, a current IAHC member and a registered patent attorney in the Chicago law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, has been appointed chair of iPOC. He will oversee the tasks of creating the legal documents for the operation of CORE and sorting out the technical problems of allowing shared databases for the seven new TLDs. There is no ‘official’ process with this TLD process however. NSI is reluctant to give up its hold on .com, .org and .net, and there are numerous other companies offering registering services for TLDs other than those mentioned here, it’s just a question of whether the domain name servers will recognize them or not, and that’s at the whim of the companies and universities that own and operate the servers. There are also many objectors to the MoU, complaining that’s it’s unnecessarily bureaucratic – and we can see why they say that – and that registering names should be left to the free market, NSI among them, although we doubt NSI would incliude its three TLDs in this ‘free’ market. Existing IAHC members in iPOC will peel away and be replaced by members picked by bodies including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), International Trademark Association (INTA), Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Assign Numbers Authority (IANA) and CORE itself, among others.