By Nick Patience
Last Friday, February 5, was the deadline for submissions to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to form the organization that will decide its policy in domain names, The body will be known as the domain name supporting organization (DNSO) and there were two main rival submissions on Friday. They divided along fairly familiar lines for those that have been following the domain name systems wars over the past three years or so. On the one side was the dnso.org group comprising the Internet Society (ISOC), Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Council of Registrars (CORE) and others. On the other side was Network Solutions Inc (NSI), the Open Root Server Confederation (ORSC) and most of the world’s managers of country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), which had a meeting in Paris this week to hammer out a draft. ICANN will post all the submissions on its web site by today and will begin a 30 day comment period designed to end in time for its next scheduled board meeting, in Singapore on March 2-4. For now, the first proposal can be seen at https://www.witsa.org and the second at https://www.open-rsc.org. However, it might all be academic by the end of this week as Jon Englund, senior VP of the ITAA, tells us he has approached the Paris group and it has agreed to talk this week to try and form a joint compromise proposal – despite the fact that his group was not invited to Paris, he says. Jay Fenello of the ORSC confirmed that the two groups will be meeting this week. Both groups claim to be proposing a bottom-up, consensus-based approach to forming policy. The main difference is the form of membership they are proposing. The dnso.org group proposes a representative democracy model with six constituencies of members: commercial and business; ISPs; non-commercial; registrars; registries; and trademark and anti-counterfeiting interests. Each of the six will select three representatives that will form the names council, which will decide policy and make recommendations to the ICANN board. The Paris group’s proposal is more in the form of a direct democracy. They propose a more fluid structure, whereby up to 21 constituencies of members will be formed, with each of them representing at least 5% of the total membership. There are stipulations built into its bylaws that no constituency shall represent more than 5% of the total general assembly and that they cannot form themselves into geographical or religious-based groups. The national registries (there are only 240 of them, one for each country) get their own constituency, hence there are a possible 21 groups. Each constituency will nominate three members to the names council, which Fenello of the ORSC says will act more as a steering committee as all policy decisions will be voted upon by the general assembly. Englund, of the ITAA admits that the dnso.org proposal does not have the support of NSI or any of the national registries. He says ISOC represents individual users, so that ground is covered. He says the direct democracy approach is not practical in a decision-making body. Bill Semich of the International Association of Top Level Domains (IATLD) claims that the dnso.org proposal is a stop-down approach and it got hijacked at the last minute by the trademark interests, which were not on board when the dnso.org was being formed at meeting in Mexico and Spain last year.