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September 24, 1998

SONGS & SOLILOQUIES WON’T STOP DNS TRANSITION TRAIN

By CBR Staff Writer

A lack of coherence clouded the DNS Forum meeting held in Manhattan Wednesday evening, that was supposed to be debating competition in the domain name registration business, but at times degenerated into long, drawn out tales of how individuals lost the rights to a particular domain name or how there should be no ‘privatization’ of domain name administrations at all. That last position, reiterated by many of the few people that actually spoke is a bit naive considering DNS administration has been privatized since 1991 when the US government first farmed out the contract to Government Systems Inc, which was subsequently re- awarded top Network Solutions Inc in 1993. Amid the folk songs and soliloquies, the debate was not really moved forward much, despite the best efforts of Milton Mueller, law professor a Syracuse University and Hans Klein, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech and member of the Computer Professional for Social Responsibility (CPSR), which stepped in at the last minute to help fund the event. There were only about 50 people present, but the fact that the venue had to be changed just hours before the start probably kept numbers down. Mueller urged those present to accept the revised draft drawn up by the Boston Working Group earlier this week, which changed elements of the draft from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and NSI, which was published on September 17. The US government has set September 30 – next Wednesday – as the deadline for a single submission from the internet community for a plan for a non-profit entity to run the DNS. Mueller said that it was unacceptable to have the two government contractors that currently run the DNS submitting the plan to the government and users and others interested in competition should get behind the Boston proposals (http://www.mama-tech.com/boston/). We have documented the differences between the BWG paper and the IANA-NSI draft (09/23/98). Klein spelled out the CPSR position on all this, which can be summed up by insisting that the interim board of the new entity should be expanded from the proposed 19 to between 25 and 30 and that 20% of the seats should be reserved for non-profit, non- industry organizations. Klein says the precedent is Comsat, which when it was established in the 1960s, one fifth of the board seats were reserved for appointees of the US President, who being elected by the US people, meant that indirectly the public had a voce, so Klein’s theory goes. Anyhow, from what we hear and see on our travels, the larger board idea is not going to win many friends, with most wanting to cut the number of seats from 19, not increase it. Klein also said the CPSR supports the idea of a membership-based organization and funding of it should not create financial dependencies, he said pointing to the Global Internet Project’s coordination of $500,000 of funding by the likes of IBM Corp and GTE Corp (09/11/98).

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