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September 28, 1998

IANA-NSI TALKS BREAK DOWN; IANA STRIKES OUT ALONE?

By CBR Staff Writer

We hear that the talks between the two major players in the battle over control of the domain name system have broken down and with just 48 hours to go until a legal deadline set by the US government, it seems the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is about to strike out on its own with its band of supporters, according to sources close to the other party, Network Solutions Inc (NSI). The draft document produced by the pair on September 17 has been reviewed by Ira Magaziner, President Clinton’s senior policy adviser on the internet, but we understand NSI is still in its own discussions with the Department of Commerce, which is the part of the government coordinating the initiative to pass control of the DNS into the hands of the internet industry after more than 15 years of government funding and management. Nobody, as usual, was available at IANA for comment. Tomorrow, September 30, is the last day of the federal contracts of both IANA and NSI, after which the DNS will be in a legal limbo, although both are certain to carry on their technical roles in maintaining the stability of the internet. After discussions lasting about four weeks on and off, IANA and NSI stopped talking around the middle of last week and IANA is apparently dotting the i’s and crossing t’s on its own draft, which would be the fifth one it has produced, either on its own or with NSI. This could result in exactly what the US government does not want – rival draft plans. It has repeatedly that it will not accept more than one plan from the industry and will force all sides into a compromise until it gets one. The n ew IANA plan could arrive as early as this morning and we understand it will broaden the role of the DNS entity beyond a standards body model – some would argue that it has already gone well beyond that – to include various public policy initiatives. Pressure for such expansion apparently came from various sources, including the European Union. There are likely to be other plans including one from NSI. A group that met in Boston earlier this month produced revisions to the IANA-NSI documents, which have garnered widespread support among the internet community (09/23/98) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) produced its own draft late last week (09/28/98).

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