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September 29, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

As predicted, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) did indeed strike out on its own and produce its own set of draft documents yesterday for the new entity to run the domain name system (DNS). We heard late Monday that the talks between the IANA and Network Solutions Inc (NSI) – the two principal players in the battle over control of the domain name system had broken down late last week (09/29/98). The supposed deadline for submissions to the US government is today, September 30.

This is now the fifth draft the IANA has produced – all but the fourth draft, which was produced jointly with NSI – have been the work of IANA director Jon Postel and his lawyers, led by Joe Sims of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, who is believed to be working on the drafts pro bono.

The main difference between this draft and the previous one is the elimination of two sub-clauses. The first stated that new DNS corporation must recognize any agreements between the US government and IANA, or the US government and NSI. That caused a great deal of consternation among some in the internet community because it sounded like the perpetuation of the NSI monopoly, so that has been scrapped. The following sub-clause, which was also scrapped, stated that the corporation should not knowingly destroy a property or contractual right of a particular party, which was deemed to be too vague to be kept in. Some also thought this could be applied if the corporation decided it was time to hand over the registry rights to .com, .net and .org to a body other than NSI.

In the introduction to the paper, Jon Postel says he has taken into account the suggestions from, among others, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the group that met in Boston right after the publication of the previous draft; both of which produced extensive revisions to that draft. However, apart from the dropping of the clause mentioning NSI and IANA specifically, none of the rest of their suggestions appear to have shown up in this draft. The EFF pointed out that there was still no provision for protection of due process or for free expression.

One organization that is happy with the new draft is the Council of Registrars (CORE), the body of 80 registrars that want to register names in new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) that it has claimed for itself. CORE emerged out of a movement started two years ago by IANA and the Internet Society (ISOC), and its chairman, Ken Stubbs declared himself very pleased with it. CORE is especially pleased that the clauses have been dropped, but new gTLDs are not likely to be introduced for up to a year. Don Heath, president of ISOC also greeted the draft favorably, saying that it isn’t perfect but is hard to argue with.

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