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October 15, 1998

LACKLUSTER INDUSTRY RESPONSE TO DNS COMMENT PERIOD

By CBR Staff Writer

The ten day period for comments on plans to transfer control of the domain name and numbering systems to private sector non- profit corporation closed Tuesday night and judging by a review of all the comment received, the government will not be presented with many surprises by the comments submitted. Officials at the Department of Commerce (DoC) were still plowing through the comments yesterday and don’t expect to make any announcements about where the process goes from here until next week. The US government placed four proposals on the DoC web site, from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), Boston Working Group BWG), Open Root Server Confederation (ORSC) and an individual, Ronda Hauben. Many of the comments support the IANA proposal as it stands wholeheartedly. And apart from a few rambling comments posted by some of the more eccentric characters in the internet community, there were few surprises, which is to be expected as this is now a fairly mature process having gone on for about three years – depending on where you place the starting point. Those that do not support the IANA proposal as it stands – and there are quite a few – mostly support it with the revisions suggested by either the BWG or ORSC, or both. Most non-believers in the IANA vision support some sort of membership organization and incorporation in Delaware, rather than California. The two concepts are linked because incorporation in Delaware would necessitate the non-profit corporation defining membership classes. Those members could then be used to elect future boards of directors. Hardly any of the comments mentioned proposed initial board members put forward by IANA, which is curious considering the selections caused a lot of controversy in the internet community’s mailing lists, where many of the comment submitters seem to spend a good part of their day. The other major concerns of those that feel the IANA proposal is flawed are the role of the supporting organization in both setting policy and selecting board members; the apparent lack of an open process in selecting the interim board; and the lack of accountability of the board, which goes back to membership again. Network Solutions Inc, the Herndon, Virginia company that runs the .com, .net and .org registry for the government and will continue to do so until September 2000, suggested numerous amendments to the IANA proposal, including the clauses that it added to a previous IANA draft that IANA subsequently removed in its fifth and final draft, stating that We would support a provision that specifies that the Board adopt policies and procedures through which a party affected by an action of the non-profit entity can seek reconsideration of that action by the Board. We believe that any affected party, including employees, should have specific rights of appeal to a neutral body. Many in the industry took that to mean NSI making sure it can get some redress should its registry business be affected by the board’s decisions. Organizations that are traditionally close to IANA, such as the Internet Society, Council of Registrars, Policy Oversight Committee and son on, all duly weighed in with unqualified support for the IANA proposal and its director and principal author, Jon Postel. Many trade organizations submitted, including the Commercial Internet Exchange (CIX), Internet Service Providers Consortium (ISP/C) and ISP trade organizations from the UK and Argentina, among others. All of the submitters from outside the US expressed some level of concern about US dominance of the process, which will probably have to be addressed by the US government. Of the major technology companies, only IBM, Compaq, America Online, MCI WorldCom and Deutsche Telekom appeared to have submitted comments. All in all, a somewhat lackluster response, in our opinion at least. Perhaps the industry is suffering from DNS-fatigue and just wants to get on with forming the non-profit corporation. But this was probably the last chance many will get to have their say for some time, unless they have the ear of the Department of Commerce or the White House.

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