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The Policy Oversight Committee (POC) has urged the government to halt its efforts to steer reform of the internet’s domain name system (DNS) and leave it to the existing structure with minimal government intervention. The POC is the successor to the International Ad-Hoc Committee (IAHC) formed by the Internet Society and the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) back in 1996. It acts as a pseudo- standards body, taking feedback from the internet community and oversees the Council of Registrars (CORE) in its attempts to get seven new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) included in the internet domain name system. However, it is one of the those seven names (.web) was already claimed by another registrar in the AlterNic camp that caused resentment in the internet community about POC’s claim to represent the interests of the community, which should be kept in mind when taking POC’s comments into account. Some of the government’s DNS green paper owed a lot to work done by IAHC/POC, but neither was mentioned specifically, much to the annoyance of those from POC. The comment period for the paper, which ended Monday, represents perhaps POC’s last chance to get its voice heard above the noise generated by the debate over reforms to the internet DNS.

By Nick Patience

The POC’s most important objections to the green paper are as follows. It says the US government has no authority to try and take control of the internet, and if it tries to do so it is likely to face numerous law suits that could drag on for years. In CORE’s submission, it says the US government hasn’t been involved in the DNS in the past, doesn’t need to be in the future and only needs to take no action to be successful. It too, deplores that lack of international involvement despite the widespread admiration and gratitude for US government funding of major parts of the internet’s evolution. But there were also major international contributions, both financial and technical, that warned the government that its move could be seen as a deliberate slight to the many non-US contributors. POC says IANA and the new non-profit corporation do not need to be incorporated in any particular country because that would infringe on its independence. POC claims that there is a clear mandate for registry to act on a cost-recovery, non-profit basis. Similarly, POC sees no commercial reason for registries being limited to just one gTLD, as the green paper proposes. It also says, with some justification, that the paper does not give detailed enough criteria for the first five entities that would qualify to manage the five new gTLDs mentioned in the paper. The trademark dispute resolution polices in the paper – or rather the complete lack of them – are also criticized, as is the position the paper would leave Network Solutions Inc in: one of long-terms economic benefits from the current monopoly position it enjoys. However, NSI would say that it has earned those benefits over the last five years. The CORE called the lack of trademark consideration a full-employment act for trademark attorneys, in its submission. As well as urging to government to stop the current proceedings and let IANA get on with its work, POC says it would support the six-month extension to NSI contract if the government set it in place. It said the government should then exercise its right under the NSI agreement to get a copy of the software used by NSI to manage the DNS system, and then presumably use the technology within IANA.

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CORE concluded with a ten-point plan leading to self-governance and competition: IANA should be recognized as the ultimate authority over the root and be allowed to evolve as a non-profit corporation; an IANA board of directors based on the IETF standards-building work; registries and registrars would fund the corporation; IANA would oversee two tiers – the non-profit registry and commercial registrars; set of standards of practice should be adopted; use the CORE work as foundation of ethical standards; add seven new gTLDs; use one shared registry system and make it available to other IANA-approved non-profits organizations; NSI’s monopoly should end March 31; the .com, .net and .org registries should be made non-profit immediately after that and NSI should hand over the database to IANA. POC’s comments were submitted by David Maher of IBM Corp, who is the chair of POC and one of the Internet Society’s appointee on the committee; CORE’s were submitted by its chair, Alan Hanson.

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CBR Staff Writer

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